Letters to Charlie #7: May 9, 1909
My big plan of catching up on the Letters to Charlie by June 30th (so I can begin posting on the correlating dates) got derailed as I fell down the rabbit hole of research again, trying to find information on John Merrill, a man mentioned in this letter.

Sadly, I didn’t have much success, other than confirming there were a lot of Merrill’s in Warren New Hampshire—from a minister to a mill owner. I’m pretty sure the John mentioned in this letter is from Warren, and likely another operator.

This isn’t the first time “John” has been mentioned. He comes up frequently, although this is the first time a last name has been used.

From August 1907:

John was very good while you were gone, he did fine, but he can’t take your place yet.

This is why I believe he is an operator.

From July 1908:

Examine John’s picture close enough so you will know him when you see him.

From April 1909:

There will be only Bernice, John and Milo here—and they won’t come where we are.

Considering the popularity of the name John, this of course could be more than one person. You’ll see once you read the letter why I’m curious about John.

The Breakthrough

This letter was an important one in regards to discoveries. Back in January, while searching newspaper archives for information, this letter provided the breakthrough in finding Dora.

The Letters to Charlie

If you’ll recall, I didn’t know Dora’s last name, since she never signs her full name, only DMP or Dora. Searching only the first name, along with the location, gave me nothing. But then I came across the name Alvah in this letter, an unusual  name, one that might get me somewhere. And it did.

Alvah is Dora’s brother. The Zena mentioned, is Dora’s sister. I seriously jumped up and did a happy dance when I made this discovery. Once I had a last name, I was able to dig deeper and learn more, including some information which will be revealed down the road. Knowing her identity added so much more depth to this series—like learning she was older than Charlie.

Enough of my rambling. Let’s get to it.

Setting the Scene

At this letter’s writing, Dora is at home in Lisbon. I get the impression she’s been away from her job as an operator in Woodsville for a bit. Charlie is in Bradford Vermont where he lives and works in the telephone office there. Both of them are employed by Dr. Eastman, who owns several telephone exchanges in that area.

The tone of the letters has changed, more conversational, less pure insecurity, although there are still moments.

 

Letter #7 in the Letters to Charlie

May 9, 1909
Lisbon, New Hampshire

May 9, 1909

My dear Charles,

I’m wondering what you are doing this beautiful day. I am not feeling very well, but managed to get up in time for church this morning, and the rest of the day have been lying down.

Alvah is home now, came last Wednesday. If Zena were only here we would have a family reunion.

I haven’t heard any good or bad report from you as yet. I haven’t even talked with Mrs. Eastman. Do hope you will get along all right.

I hope you won’t agree with John Merrill when you know what he said. I don’t agree with him, but think it’s just opposite. It was one Sunday between one and two o’clock. John called up Warren to inquire about some wire that the Dr. wanted and they visited quite a little while and during their conversation they spoke of us. John Merill said that he had listened to us for about two months nearly every night and thought that:

“Dora was too good of a girl to spend her time talking with Charlie.”

Although he had never seen me and knew nothing about me but that was his opinion. I told John the next time he was talking with Warren that he could tell them that I was old enough to attend to my own business and I thought you were. I hope he will tell just what I said.

Mrs. Eastman expects to be away some evening the last of the week and I wonder if I can’t see you for a little while.

The prize speaking takes place Friday May 21, coming up?

I noticed a postal on the piano last night, the writing looked natural but the initials I don’t know. Wonder who sent it?

Mrs. E brought me some lovely things from the west, I will tell you what they were when I talk with you sometime.

Wasn’t it good of Carrie to invite me down to Bradford? She must think differently towards me then what I thought she did. Please don’t look for mistakes in this letter. I’ve made more than forty.

It seems so good to be at home I guess I shall have to come home and stay. They don’t need me in Woodsville. Don’t you think I had better stay?

Lovingly, Dora

Thoughts

So you see my obsession with John? Why does he care so much? Does he secretly love Dora? But then… I’m confused by this:

Although he had never seen me and knew nothing about me…

He and Dora had never met?? Huh? By the way Dora wrote about John Merrill, it sounds as if they’d had a conversation, and he told her what he said to the operators at Warren. I’d assumed John was in Woodsville since he was helping the Dr with a wire, and “calling up Warren” to inquire, so figured they had a conversation there. But then… Dora is home sick in Lisbon. So how did Dora find out what John said to Warren?

I am fairly certain, though, that John is one of the “friends” mentioned at the beginning of the last letter:

As long as I don’t care to have our friends at Warren know all our business you won’t object to me writing and telling you what I want, will you? 

So here’s my idea now.

John has come from Warren to Woodsville to replace Dora while she is out. Perhaps Dora has been calling Charlie to chat, and John listens in from his post.Early Telephone stock image

Although that doesn’t explain how Dora knew what John said to Warren. Unless John rang her up and told her. Who knows.

One thing is clear: John certainly doesn’t think highly of Charlie. His opinion makes me believe Charlie has a reputation, perhaps a teenaged Lothario, full of charm, one Dora has innocently fallen for.

What do you think?

Until next time…

Later gators!

P.S. I’m putting together a Cast of Characters page to keep things straight.

UP TO SPEED WITH THE LETTERS

If you’re new to the Letter’s to Charlie series, here are some links to catch up:

UP NEXT?

  • Our latest Vagabond Adventure in Yorba Linda.
  • The June 1st letter.
  • Vagabonding at the Motor Palace.
  • The June 30th letter.
  • …and THEN I’ll get to the correlating dates starting on July 11.
  • Somewhere in there, I really should start working on my next novel… ahem.

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