Awash With Love: Storm Resurfaces 1940s Letters | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Awash With Love: Storm Resurfaces 1940s Letters

Play associated audio

The weekend after Superstorm Sandy, Kathleen Chaney and her son Patrick stumbled upon a bundle of letters while they were walking along the New Jersey shore near her home.

The letters were tied with a pink ribbon and thoroughly soaked. Some of the beautiful handwriting had blurred. Chaney took the bundle home, dried out the letters and began to read them.

They were written to a man named Lynn Farnham, signed by "your loving Dot." Chaney says the letters speak of true love and devotion.

One begins: "My darling Lynn, just a few lines this morning, as this is going to be another one of my many busy days."

Another letter details last-minute wedding preparations: "We ordered the flowers. You will have a white rose, and the other boys will have carnations."

Chaney soon realized she had to find the couple and return their correspondence.

"It's so romantic, I just want them to have them," she says.

She went to the address on the letters, in nearby Rumson, but the house had been torn down. She reached out to local officials and posted messages on genealogy websites, where she connected with Shelley Farnham Hilber — Dot and Lynn's niece.

"Uncle Lynn was my dad's older brother," she says. :He passed away quite a few years ago, and there's a whole piece of family history that is lost with that."

Farnham Hilber says her aunt and uncle met in the early 1940s, and the letters were written during their wartime courtship.

She says her uncle was at Pearl Harbor during the attack. The couple married in 1948, and Farnham Hilber says she's thrilled to have this piece of history.

"These stories are gone, these people are gone, you never have access to these moments again," she says. "It's going to be wonderful to have a peek into what it was like to be 19 and 20 years old, and to be in love in the 1940s."

Dorothy "Dot" Farnham is still alive and lives in a New Jersey nursing home.

As to how these letters ended up on an Atlantic Highlands beach in New Jersey, the best guess is that they were put in storage when the house was torn down, and only resurfaced because of the storm.

Copyright 2012 WHYY, Inc.. To see more, visit http://www.whyy.org.

NPR

No Small Feat: The NBA's Shortest Player Never Gave Up

At 5 foot 3, Muggsy Bogues holds the record as shortest player in NBA history. Criticism of his height started on the basketball courts of the Baltimore projects, and continued well into his career.
NPR

Tracing A Gin-Soaked Trail In London

Around the world, new gin distilleries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. NPR traces the boom to its historic roots in London, which once had 250 distilleries within the city limits alone.
NPR

Ranting And Throwing Papers: An Angry Candidate Runs For Congress

State Rep. Mike Bost's rants on the Illinois House floor are the stuff viral dreams are made of. Bost says he has good reason to be upset, and wants voters to share his anger.
NPR

Israel's Solar-Powered 'Trees': For Smartphones And Community

The man-made trees are designed to create a public space where people can gather and re-charge a battery — their own and their smartphone's.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.