My own private mystery

October 31st, 2009

I was getting ready for a photo shoot last week (more on this later). I gathered up some old family books as props, including multiple copies of works by Edgar Allan Poe, a large volume including the complete works of William Shakespeare, and the complete works of Flavius Josephus – a theology tome of over 800 pages. I found two things among its yellowed, fragile pages: a brown and crispy maple leaf, and a letter with a clearly legible postmark (February 1st, 1924: 1130 PM.)
The letter was sent from the Melville Hotel, 5338 Bartmer Avenue, St. Louis, MO. The envelope was addressed to Mr. J Bruce Dickey. Dickey is a surname from my mother’s side, many generations ago.
The letter reads:
Dear Father
Your letter rcd yesterday. In regard to the mortgage should think it would be better to borrow the money from Morgan at Mt. Vernon than to pay Frank Thomas 7%. I would advise you to go over there and see him about it at once. 5% is always better than 7%. Love to Mother and Alice.
Your loving Son,
PS Tell Mother I’ll write real soon.

Finding this letter was quietly thrilling. This mortgage issue must have been kind of a big deal – requiring a rapid turn-around. Man-to-man communication. Mother and Alice were excluded, this was an exclusive son-to-father message.

Other than slight yellowing of the paper, the letter is

Message from the past

Message from the past

in amazingly good shape for something 85 years old. My grandmother had mentioned an “Aunt Alice”, so this letter may have been written by my great-great-uncle!

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