February 8, 2014

CUPID COMES CALLING -- LOVE LETTERS FROM NOTRE DAME

It was the 1950’s. The decade of poodle skirts, car hops, Elvis, and Rock and Roll. My dad played the tenor sax in a big band for local dances around Fort Worth. The leader of that band was my mother’s uncle, Jimmy.
In the summer of 1952, when my mother was 15, she used to go to the dances where her uncle’s band played. When the band had a break, my dad came to sit at the table with his pal, Jimmy, and Jimmy introduced them. Mom says Daddy barely spoke to her. He was handsome, well-dressed, and older,(17) while she was a girl his mother considered “from the wrong side of the tracks”. Her parents were divorced, she moved from rented house to rented house every time her step-father lost a job, or her mother got bored.
In reality, Daddy was smitten from the first moment he laid eyes on her. But he was really shy. An only child of older parents, he grew up sheltered and his parents had very high expectations for his prospects. That fall he went off to Notre Dame. A year and a half later, he was home for Christmas break and Uncle Jimmy needed a date for his pal, (my dad) so they could double date, and called my mom. Mom says she had a big crush on Daddy, though he hardly spoke to her at all, but he asked her out for the next 2 nights! In mid-January he left for the spring semester at Notre Dame. And, though he returned to Fort Worth during the summer and Christmas breaks, he wrote to her from the Indiana university several times every week.
My mom has kept those letters all these years. His correspondence was fairly tame, detailing his daily life, but the progression of his feelings is there, though mostly subtle. Here are a few snippets.



January 12th, 1954
Dear Luretta,
I received your letter this evening and was really glad to hear from you. After I read it I went to supper and then studied physics.
Be sure and write soon,
Chuck


April 8th, 1954
Dear Luretta,
There is a disc-jockey show that I have been listening to regularly for the past few weeks. They play real good records late in the evenings--Most of it is rhythm and blues and such stuff. What kind of music do you like?
Love ya,
Chuck


May 26th, 1954
Dear Luretta,
Well, I finished my last class of the year today. I’ll have a little extra time now with the exception of studying for and taking finals.
The folks will be leaving Sunday and we will be home the Monday after that. If you promise to be a good girl and behave yourself, I might phone you when I get home. (Though at first my feminist sensibilities were offended, my mom clarified two things here. 1. Daddy was jokingly referring to her dating other guys while he was away. 2. He most definitely was going to call her the second he got home)
Love and stuff,
Chuck


January 18, 1955
Dear Luretta,
…do take care of yourself. It’s gotten real cold. And speaking of, I suppose you realize that you’re going to have to hug me a whole lot this weekend just to keep me warm. No, on second thought, perhaps I’d better hug you.
Best of luck on your finals,
Love you,
Chuck


April 9th, 1955
Hi Honey,
…all morning, noon and afternoon, every time I looked at my watch I would imagine what you would probably be doing at that particular time, whether it was just getting up, or going to school, or eating lunch, or going to work. I can’t ever remember being so miserable. I can’t help missing you.
All my love,
Chuck


After that letter, there are no more because my dad convinced his parents to let him attend TCU in Fort Worth and he never returned to Notre Dame. Mom and dad dated for two more years and were married on April 26th, 1957. They were married 44 years until my dad passed away from cancer.
One side note. In the spring of ’54, my mother’s parents moved the family yet again, and my mother didn’t tell my dad, so when he got home that summer, he showed up at her NEW residence frantic. He said he’d gone to her old house and she wasn’t there and had called Jimmy to get her new address. She said she knew then that he cared more than he let on. So, I have my mother’s Uncle Jimmy to thank, three times!- for bringing my parents together.

Sometimes I think, with emails and texting, what a shame it is that we won’t have love letters written in our hand for our progeny to read. What do you think? Do you have any letters you’ve written that will someday be seen by future generations?

Leave a comment for a chance to win the $200 gift card. I'll also draw a winner from today’s commenters at midnight tonight for a copy of my latest Harlequin Blaze, RELENTLESS SEDUCTION. Be sure to include your email address with your comments! Good luck!

32 comments:

Natasha Moore said...

What a great progression of the relationship shown in those letters.

My parents had letters saved too-ones they wrote while my dad was serving in the Korean war. But a few years ago they said they destroyed them. Guess they didn't want their kids to see what they wrote in those letters!

Bailey Stewart said...

What wonderful treasures!

It is a shame that kids in the future won't have what we have .... with my parents it's a couple of cards. I have my father's letters home from WWII (before he met my mom).

Jennifer Haddad said...

I think that love letters are so romantic! I have a few that the hubby has written and will show my daughter someday.

Pamela Stone said...

There is just something so sweet and romantic about a real letter. Your dad sounds like such a romantic guy. And how cool that your mom kept them all.

When my dad passed away, my mom found all the cards both she and I had given him in a drawer. But I don't think they were ever apart long enough after they met to write letters.

Cool blog.

Rita said...

I don't have any love letters but I have a big box of letters from my mom and also from my sister. My mom passed away ten years ago. Recently I sat down and read some of those letters and I laughed and cried. I treasure them.

Barb Han said...

Love these letters. What a sweet story. I guess today this would be done via e-mail. *sigh* Doesn't seem as romantic.

Linda Steinberg said...

My husband sent me letters on Snoopy stationery when we were dating. He was in Brooklyn and I was in Houston. Sadly, I think I threw them out years ago. So much sweeter than emails.

Sally Felt said...

What a sweet story, Juliet.

*wrong side of the tracks"? Hah! Next time I see Luretta, I'm going to tease her about being a bad girl.

Juliet Burns said...

Natasha! I can't believe they destroyed them! Reminds me of Jane Austen's sister Cassie, who burned all of Jane's letters to her before she died. What a loss!
Thank you for "stopping by" and I hope your sales of PLAYING FOR REAL are through the roof!

Juliet Burns said...

Hi Bailey,
Wow, what a treasure to have those letters from your father during WWII. I would love to read something like that. I love that era, it seems so romantic. Some of my favorite Romance movies are set during that era: CHARLOTTE GREY, SHINING THROUGH, CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN.
Thank you for being here today! HUGS!

Juliet Burns said...

Hi Jennifer,
How lucky to have letters from your hubby! You daughter will treasure those letters someday as I do these from my dad. He died in 2001 and I still miss him so badly.
Thank you for coming by and leaving a message! Have a great weekend!

Juliet Burns said...

Oh Rita!! I don't blame you a bit for treasuring those letters. How wonderful! And hopefully someday younger generations will be able to treasure them as well. What a wonderful legacy to leave.
Thank you for commenting today and hope you're having a great day!

Juliet Burns said...

Pam, oh to have been a fly on the wall when our parents were young. Ever since I saw the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE, I've wished I could go back in time and know my parents when they were teens...

Armenia said...

You are so right about love letters not being written anymore. I've kept mine and my husband's when before we were married and had a long distance relationship for a few months. I had to blush a little when my daughter came across them in the family photo box. They were fun to read.

armiefox at yahoo dot com

Juliet Burns said...

Barb, I so agree. Although email love letters would at least give us insight into their thoughts and daily lives. Better than nothing. Do you save emails from loved ones? I have a few I treasure.

Juliet Burns said...

Awww, Armenia! How cool that you let your daughter read them! I think our children benefit from learning that their parents are only human and had/have all the same feelings and thoughts as they do. How lucky you are to have those letters from you and your hubby! Thank you for coming by today!

Juliet Burns said...

Linda! You threw them out?? Noooo. Maybe you still have them. I know your daughters would love to see them someday. Snoopy, huh?
COOL!

Juliet Burns said...

Sally, she truly was a bad girl. She dated other guys while dad was away. But she definitely had a rough childhood. A selfish, irresponsible mother, a selfish egomaniac father, and she was the oldest, so she had to deal with the brunt of their bad decisions. But she sure learned what she didn't want her life to be like. And I and my sisters benefited from that.

karla eakin said...

It's really beautiful to know that love can flourish through distance..I'm sure it wasn't easy and that they both dated around..but true love conquers all..and they have something to remind themselves with when the days are tough

Jean MP said...

Its a shame that the art of letter writing has gone by the wayside. I think it is great that your mom kept all the letters.
skpetal at hotmail dot com

Juliet Burns said...

Hi Karla,
That's true I never thought about that. That the letters can be a physical reminder to the lovers/ spouses of the love they felt all those years ago and help to renew or spark old feelings. Hmm, maybe I should write a love letter to my husband sometime when I'm feeling especially in love with him for a reminder when I'm not. ;)

Juliet Burns said...

Hi Jean,
I agree, it's a huge loss I think for future generations, not having samples of our parents' handwriting, or even just sometimes reading about the minutia of their daily lives. At least for me, I find it so interesting to read about that kind of thing.
Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment!

bn100 said...

Don't really have any

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Susan said...

I too, have a pile of love notes that Greg & I shared in secret. We used to leave them under the leg of the coffee table that he built of very thick wood. All were on this brightly multi-colored note pad. I need to go back & read them, & have a good cry. We were so in love. So thankful for those times, & for Mom, & Dad's notes too!

Juliet Burns said...

Aww, I didn't know that, Susan. How wonderful. I hope you can share them with your sons someday. You still have the coffee table, too? How cool that must be to have things Greg actually built with his own hands.
Love you

karla eakin said...

Lol Juliet..we've done that a few times..we've even made holiday cards from our daughter to each other to document her advances..she's just 2 now

Karilyn Bentley said...

What a sweet story! Loved it! Thank you for sharing!

Juliet Burns said...

Hi Karla,
How cool! I bet your daughter will love reading those when she's grown.
Thank you so much for coming by today!

Alana Amaro said...

I loved it! Such a wonderful story. Thanks for giving us a peek at the letters. We might not send letters now, but I have some beautiful, sweet messages from a friend who gave me back my belief in romance. I copy them and send to an email folder. When I'm feeling sad, I go through, and re-read them. They give me so much pleasure and Faith that the future will work out.

Well my friend, I already have your books, I just wanted to stop by and say hello!

Juliet Burns said...

Hey Alana! Thank you for leaving a comment! HUGS to you for always believing in yourself!

Kim V said...

I think I have one or two letters, but I am trying to get my hands on them to throw them out. They don't need to be seen.

Juliet Burns said...

Armenia was my winner for a copy of Relentless Seduction!