Monday, February 13, 2012

Love According to Jack & Thelma

A couple of years ago I got a little addicted to buying original letters and photos at Ebay. My addiction was partly a result of the bidding wars that took place for the WWII letters of Jack (George) Hunt and Thelma Barnes. Apparently, this collection was sold at an estate sale, but subsequently separated into batches for the online auction market. I have not investigated Jack Hunt's War record yet, but I do know he began his service in 1942 and served well into 1945. During this time, he was engaged to his hometown sweetheart, Thelma Barnes. Unfortunately, I was unable to win all of the batches of letters written between these two, but I managed to snag about 100. The separation of this collection was conducted in a mercenary fashion as usual. Batches of 10 were parcelled out in date order, with the exception of a few singled out to be sold on their own when the content was particularly interesting or rare. It was doubly sad that no one seemed to want Thelma's letters since she was writing from the homefront - hers went very cheap. Yet, their story is only half known if we only read one side of the exchange.
The wonderful thing about these letters is the prolific prose found inside. Jack was a very engaged writer! He was articulate, his penmanship was clear, he was detailed, and he was funny! He was not the most grammatically correct writer, but his sweet affections expressed for Thelma are some of the most adorable I have ever read. Instead of the standard (and often boring) letters back home, Jack actually described what he was doing, how he was training, what movies he saw, and how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with dear Thelma. As I went through the letters, these two expected some sort of leave within 1943 or so to get married, but the War kept getting in the way. The more they wrote, the more they expressed their desire to marry and have a happy life with children. I also noticed that as the War drug on, Jack's letters became much more solemn in nature - but he never waned from his desire to marry Thelma. By the last letters in 1945, I did not know if he made it home to marry his sweetheart, but then I stumbled upon Thelma's obit from 2008. I was very excited to see that they did get married as soon as he got home in 1945 and had several children. Jack died in 1971, but Thelma remained true and never remarried. After reading their passionate love letters, I am not surprised in the least!
These are some excerpts from their February letters.

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone! (P.S. Don't you love her pink stationary?!)


Linda McCauley said...

It's sad that their children didn't want to keep the letters.


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