As I study my ancestors, I often wonder what drew couples together. Was it LOVE or was it just a matter of convenience? I have very little evidence of fairytale romance in my family tree, not that there was none, just no proof. One exception is my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker and Uncle Herbert. Three love letters, an anniversary card, a birthday card, and a valentine all attest to their romance that spanned roughly 35 years. Had Herbert not died at the young age of 59, undoubtedly that love affair would have gone on much longer.
Clues in one love letter suggest their courtship began sometime in 1924, but they did not marry until November 3, 1927 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. I wonder if they honeymooned at the Grand Canyon. That fur coat would have come in handy in November.
As an officer for the railroad, Herbert did some traveling. In January 1926, he wrote to Helen on hotel stationery. The typical greeting “Dearest Helen” is followed with a little humor before expressing how much he missed her.
Have only a few minutes to write this in, and to make matters worse, I left my pen in my bag at the station, and am now trying to write with a pen point that George Washington used to sign the Declaration of Independence with.
. . . .
Well, darling, tell me what to say - you know, I don’t talk much but am a “boy” of action. It is raining a little here, which together with this “bug” makes a rather dismal sight.
I cannot begin to tell you dear how much I appreciated your coming down to the train with me this A.M. but you know how much don’t you?
Good night Sweetheart
Yours till forever
One day while at work at Seaboard Supply (plumbing), Helen typed a letter to Herbert on company letterhead.
Herbert darling don’t be peeved with me for writing this on the typewriter. I tried to write it with the pen, but I just can’t. I am too nervous so please forgive me.
There isn’t any news here, and I must get back to work, so will have to sign off. Herbert please take good care, and remember that I love you.
P.S. I don’t think I could have done any work today if I didn’t get your letter. All day yesterday, I was looking for it, and it was the last thing I thought about went [sic] I went to bed. I knew I would get it today.
Hmm - wonder where that nickname came from and WHY?
I wonder what made her too nervous to use a pen.
- those terms of endearment and expressions of longing for one another followed Herbert and Helen even after they had been an old married couple for decades. Herbert was traveling as an auditor for the railroad just days before their 27th anniversary. He did not forget though! An anniversary card was mailed in plenty of time to arrive on November 3rd.
Herbert dated the card, but had he been thinking, he could have used the same card EVERY year. Numbers 1-50 are printed on a little card that spins into the round opening.
MORE THAN PUPPY LOVE
Since this week’s theme was selected to coincide with Valentine’s Day, I will close with the Valentine Herbert selected for his dearest Helen in 1953. The message builds and builds from the quarter page, to the half page, and finally to the page opened in full.
Wishing you all a love like that!
Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”
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