I’m sure there are organized people who always have a bookmark on hand when closing a book, but I’m not one of them. I grab bills or coupons or ticket stubs to slip between the pages, and if I still received letters, I’d probably grab those, too.
That’s why it’s not surprising how often people discover mail hidden inside books. While cleaning out a relative’s house, Andrew Keith of Ormskirk, England recently found a letter dated 1916 in the back of an old volume. Signed Ronald, the writer warned his sister that she might not hear from him for a while because he was using his last sheet of paper. Supplies must have been scanty in the trenches of World War I.
Keith is unsure how he is related to Ronald, but he created a display in his shop window to feature the letter along side his own grandfather’s WWI photos, medals and memorabilia. Read more in Keith’s local newspaper, the Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Advertiser.
A couple of months ago, Sheila Polk found an unopened WWII era letter in a book at a Florida Goodwill store. Polk had the willpower to leave it sealed while she tracked down the recipient and sender, opening the envelope only after she learned both had passed away.
Sgt. Albert C. Alm, Jr., stationed in Palm Springs, California, wrote to Pfc. Helen Rothurmel with the WACs in Dallas, Texas, “I was sure glad I got to see you that morning at church. I am sorry I wasn’t so talkative but being around a lot of people all of a sudden had me speechless.”
Alas, this wasn’t the opening dance of a lifetime romance. Albert and Helen went their separate ways after the war ended. It makes you wonder, though—would their lives have followed a different course if she had read that letter?
The closest I’ve come to discovering mail tucked between the leaves is my great-grandmother’s handwritten pickle recipe inside her 1906 cookbook. No family news, but I can now tell you how to whip up a batch of 50 kosher dills.
What about you—have you ever found a letter in a book?