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An Upsetting and Surprising Letter

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

February 25, 1930 10 PM SPECIAL DELIVERY

Tuesday

Dear Jim:
I am really sorry you took such a stand in regard to not hearing from me.  You surprised me Jim and I am sorry it happened.  Please don’t get so worked up next time.

I have had all I could do and more this week.  I just got home from the funeral.  It certainly was sad.  I took two daughters and a son in my car.  I just got so nervous I thought if I didn’t get home I would just die myself.  I surely feel sorry for them.

Mother has been doing a lot of cooking for them and we have been so upset.

I was glad you called me last night.  I sure couldn’t understand not hearing from you either.  Well it is over.  I hope it doesn’t happen again.

Jim, you seem to be rather easily made angry lately.  I think you are tired and nervous.  You may laugh at me but you haven’t seemed yourself for a week.  If anything is worrying you please forget it.

I think of you so often and I am sure you must be mistaken if you think I don’t like you, cause I surely do.  Please don’t get angry at me again.

Love, 

Mary

 

What in the world has been going on the past seven days? No letters for one week.

Jim is unhappy and upset about this.  Angry, in fact.  It seems that they’ve been giving each other the silent treatment.

This letter is upsetting.

Mary is upset, too.   Upset enough to send this letter special delivery during the middle of the week.  Upset that someone died.  Could it be the boy who had the shoulder operation recently?  Upset enough to think she might die herself. Upset that Jim is so worked up.  She thinks he’s easily angered because he’s tired and nervous.  When I am exhausted and anxious, I can fly off the handle, too.  Just ask my family.  That’s not so surprising.

This letter, however, is surprising.  The tone of her writing is totally unexpected…argumentative and defensive but also apologetic.  What is perhaps most astonishing to me is how she tells Jim that he should just forget about whatever he is worrying about.  Mary was an accomplished worrier.  She worried about the weather, health, what to wear, her family, other people’s families, how many knives and forks to set at each place setting, animals, the state of affairs in the world, keeping your hair out of your eyes (remember the bobby pins?) and driving too fast.  That’s the abbreviated short list of the abbreviated short list. Maybe she suggests that he put the worry out of his mind because she knows the emotions it stirs up and the problems it creates, real and otherwise.  Yet her worry shows her concern for others and for him.  She is not going to let him forget that…”I think of you often and I am sure you must be mistaken if you think I don’t like you, cause I surely do.”

Well it is over.  Thank goodness.  I hope it doesn’t happen again either.

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Special Delivery from St. Louis

Mary and Jim wrote to one another everyday, sometimes twice in one day and also on Sundays.  Mail was delivered regularly Monday through Saturday, but not on Sunday.  Special Delivery was a service of the U.S. Postal Service from 1885 to 1997 when overnight, express mail took its place.  A Special Delivery letter was dispatched immediately through a special messenger.  So that they never missed a day to write one another a letter, they sent one another “specials” for delivery on Sundays.  This is the first “special” I found in the letter box.

Postmark St. Louis, MO

February 8, 1930 10 PM 

SPECIAL DELIVERY (12 cents)

Saturday Night

Dear Jim:

Just a note to tell you that I am alright.

The show was grand and even though I lost some sleep by coming I’m really glad.

I haven’t bought anything but some beads so I’ll be able to come down again.

Please excuse this pencil but we are at a little shop getting dinner and this is my only chance to write you.  I’ll do much better tomorrow.

I hope you and Henry have a good weekend.  Maybe we will have a big time next week.

If I get a chance tonight I’ll write more but I just can’t do any better at present.

Be sure and write me about what you think best in regard to next week end.  I want to do what you really think will be best.

I wish you could have seen the show it was just wonderful.  You would just love the music.  “Lover Come Back to Me” was marvelous.

Must close.  Please forgive me for writing this short letter.  I just wanted you to hear.

Will be glad to get your letter tomorrow.

Love,

Mary

What makes this letter “special” is not only the way it was delivered but that Mary planned to write to Jim after the show.  Along with the lipstick, compact and handkerchief in her purse, she also managed to tuck in some note paper, an envelope and enough stamps to send it Special Delivery.  Maybe she forgot her pen in the excitement of going to the Fox Theater for the evening, or she might have run out of ink, so she asks the waitress who takes their pie and ice cream order if she can borrow her pencil.  As marvelous as her weekend has been in St. Louis, she is already dreaming and planning about the upcoming weekend she would spend with Jim.

 

The picture show that she saw that night was New Moon, a story about two star crossed lovers who have a ship board romance and must overcome overwhelming odds to be together.  The movie featured the song, “Lover Come Back to Me.”  The song has been recorded by Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Barbra Streisand.  If you watch Dancing With the Stars, you’ve heard it.  Brooke Burke and Derek Hough danced the Quickstep to it in Season 7.

You went away.  I let you.  We broke the ties that bind.  I wanted to forget you and leave the past behind.  Still, the magic of the night I met you seems to stay forever in my mind.

The sky was blue and high above.  The moon was new and so was love.  This eager heart of mine was singing.  Lover where can you be.

This heart of mine is singing.  Lover come back to me.  

(Oscar Hammerstein II)

The lyrics remind me a little of my grandparents’ unfolding love story.  Broken ties but Jim stayed forever on her mind.  The moon is new and so is their love.  Surely, Mary’s heart is singing as she pencils this “special” to Jim.

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