A couple weeks after buying the letters from Rachel at Black Luck Vintage late last year, she sent me a message about a box of cards and miscellaneous correspondence from Charlie and his family and asked if I wanted it. At first I hesitated, because I already had so many letters to go through, but she said they were mine if I wanted them, and how could I not?
While sorting through the contents, I found something cool:
Two years have passed since the first letter from Dora, and now seventeen-year-old Charlie has completed his studies at the Bradford Academy, with honors.
His commencement exercises ran from June 13th-17th, 1909, a multiple day extravaganza of speeches. The class flower was the Red Rose. Class color, crimson. Class motto, Excelsior (Latin for Ever Upward). Charlie spoke on “The Influence of Greece.”
He must have been one of the smart guys, because he graduated the Latin course instead of the English, and got Honorable Mention in the class honors.
A letter NOT from Dora.
But from another woman.
Oh man. Dora is not going to be happy about this.
Helen is a nineteen-year old teacher, and someone Charlie has know for three years—at least over the line. They have never met in person, but it seems, Charlie is pursuing her. Let’s use this photograph to illustrate Helen.
The tone of Helen’s letter is vastly different than Dora’s. Take a read and see what you think.
Letter #9 in the Letters to Charlie
[su_box title=”June 30, 1909″ style=”soft” box_color=”#c46e54″ radius=”10 “]Wednesday evening June 30, 1909
Really I was sleeping so soundly and was awakened so suddenly that I wasn’t really ready to talk over the phone. Forgotten you—no— but I thought you had forgotten me. I have often times wondered if you were still in Bradford VT. I can’t distinguish names over the phone – especially when I’m half asleep. Your voice honestly sounded like Walter Chamberlain’s, a boy that graduated in my class.
So you are out of high school, are you glad?
I was rather glad because there is certainly hard work in school.
I have taught school all this year, a regular old maid school. “School Marm”???? No old maid tho. I expect to teach again this year. Both mother and father are away and my sister Shirley and I are keeping house. I make a fine cook. Come up sometime and you can tell for yourself.
Isn’t it funny to be writing to people one has never seen? I would love to see you, I can imagine how you look. Have you a picture of yourself? I would really like one.
I don’t like to call you up over the phone as there are so many listeners. How is Dora now?
It doesn’t seem possible that it was nearly three years ago that I lived in Woodsville with my sister and went to school. I think I was a junior when I first met you—over the phone.
Have I gotten your name correctly?
Please destroy this letter won’t you? I would like to hear from you anytime, but would rather see you so as to settle my curiosity.
Sincerely Helen T. Moulton
Bath, New Hampshire[/su_box]
I like the not-so-subtle, “How is Dora now?” following “there are so many listeners.” I imagine if Helen lived in Woodsville for a time, she likely knows Dora, and clearly knows there is something between Charlie and Dora—or at least that Dora is interested.
I find it fascinating that Charlie kept all of these letters, even though both women have spoken of destroying them. He lived to be 100, by the way. That’s a long time to carry these stacks of letters around.
I have at last caught up, and can begin posting on the correlating date of the letter. So who will the July 11, 1909 letter be from? Dora? Or Helen? You’ll have to wait and see.
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: