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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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:
- 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.