Here we are, on July 11th 2018, posting a letter from July 11th, 1909. We are finally in sync with the dates. Let’s see if I can keep it up.
I don’t know about you, but each time I make a discovery or connection in this series, I get really stinkin’ excited. I’m astounded how 109 years after these letters were written, I can dig around and find details. Thanks to archives, I was able to make a pretty cool link, one I would not have been able to verify otherwise.
Check this out. In this letter, Helen mentions her sisters, which triggered something in my memory. I flashed back to Dora’s first letter and had a hunch. So I went back and reread Dora’s words:
I don’t see, Charles, how you could trust me enough to send me another girl’s letter and her picture. How could you? As long as I don’t want to keep the pictures I will return them. I have tried to take good care of them and I’m sure no one has seen them except myself. They are both good pictures but the one she marked 1907 looks more like her. The other one looks more like her sister Imogene.
Could it be?
Was Dora talking about a letter and pictures from Helen? Curious, I dove into family records and found Helen’s family: sister Shirley, whom Helen frequently mentions, and her two married sisters: Marion and Imogene.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
What do you know? Helen and Charlie had been writing letters BEFORE Dora and Charlie! (Or at least before the first letter I have from Dora.) Did Charlie stop because of his new-found interest in the much older Dora? And why, two years later, did his interest in Helen reignite?
Setting the Scene
Ten days have gone by since we first heard from Helen, a reacquainting of sorts, prompted by—I’m guessing—a phone call from Charlie. Helen is a teacher in a nearby town, and first “met” Charlie over the line three years ago. They have never seen each other, although Charlie—as we know—has seen a picture of Helen. She is conversational in tone, and so much more self-assured than Dora.
Oh, and I misspoke in my last post, saying Helen was twenty (I’ve since corrected it). She is in fact nineteen, a two-year age difference, to Dora and Charlie’s eight-year difference.
Letters to Charlie #10
[su_box title=”July 11, 1909″ style=”soft” box_color=”#c46e54″ radius=”10 “]Bath Upper Village, New Hampshire
I was awfully glad to hear from you last night, but I do dislike talking over the phone—too many people up this way that like to make other people’s affairs their own.
To have been polite I should have answered your letter before but I have been over to my sister’s since Tuesday morning. (I have two married sisters, and Shirley, who is two years older than I – that making me the baby of the family or in other words 19-years-old, see? This is the family history.)
Comprendez vous, monsuier?
To go on with my story, mother was over there with my sister for a few days and was taken very ill. Consequently I haven’t had hardly any sleep this week until last night. Last night I was rather tired. I think I have explained myself “exactly.”
I really have a great imagination—but I’d like to see you.
Tres strangeness, n’est-ce pas? Oui, je pense. (Very strange, is it not? Yes, I think.) I hope I may some day.
Doesn’t it seem strange writing to a person one has never seen? What must you think of me?
Do you know any Newbury boys? Dick Cobb? Shirley knows Dick, he was up here and spent the day Monday.
In your letter you said you wished you were as good a writer as I. Mercy, I consider myself a horrible writer.
No wonder you can’t think of any possible name that begins with T? I never write my middle name—Tyler—I dislike it, but it is a family name.
About school—if you did go to me, I certainly should keep you after school—if you didn’t have your lessons.
Charlie please excuse the horrible writing. Hope to hear from you soon. I am…
H Tyler M[/su_box]
Flirtatious little thing, isn’t she?
I’m guessing Charlie must have asked about the middle initial T in her last sign off, so she is playing off of that. I also love her slipping a little French in here and there. My grandmother was raised in Skaneatelas New York, and went to Miss Beard’s School for Girls, where learning French was a must. She would often do the same, slip in little French phrases.
Anyway. I digress.
Again Helen has concern about people listening in. How funny, isn’t it, that it was common place for people to eavesdrop on the line. I hurt for Dora, gripping the phone to her ear, listening to the tinny voices through the wire, of her beloved Charlie flirting with another girl. Ugh. Gut-wrenching.
And considering Dora verified what Helen looks like in that first letter, I’m guessing they do indeed know one other. What kind of game was Charlie playing, giving Dora Helen’s letters? Helen would not be happy about that. And it certainly didn’t make Dora happy.
Oh what a triangle.
The next letter comes right on the heels of this one. July 13th. In fact, July is a busy month for letters, so I suppose that means I will be too.
UP TO SPEED WITH THE LETTERS
If you’re new to the Letters to Charlie series, here are links to the preceding letters to catch up:
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