I went for a walk on Sunday and wandered into Pauline's Antiques on Park Street. It's overflowing with every old and random thing imaginable.
While I was pawing through old greeting cards and stationery, I came upon two small letters, both from a woman named Mary E. Stubbs in Healdsburg to a man named Clifford Holmes in Sacramento. The letters were sent in the summer of 1939. Each envelope has two pieces of small stationery. She wrote both letters in two parts, each over a period of 2-3 days. But, the second letter is sent just three days after the first.
She writes about going to work, spending time with friends, feeling blue, the colored photos her friends brought back from Europe and how she intends to go there one day, "Just see if I don't!" she exclaims. Pointing out that she always tells him what she does with her evenings and he never tells her, she asks Clifford what special things he does with his time. She asks him for a picture of himself, and another poem (apparently he'd been published.) The first three parts are casual, light-hearted and flirty, but the fourth piece is simply this:
"Cliff, I haven't time to write more. I have to see you. If you possibly can, please come over this weekend. If you can't come this weekend, I may never see you again. Really! I'm staying at Hood's at 507 Tucker, so come there. Please come (underlined thrice.) it's so urgent! Loads of love, Mary."
(Oh, and she sends the second one "Special Delivery," which cost 4x as much to send, but I notice it was delivered the same day. Impressive.)
You can imagine the intrigue now consuming me. I believe I found a picture of her through the Healdsburg Museum. There's a photo of the Healdsburg High School class of '36 which includes a photo of one Mary E. Stubbs. She looks insecure and prone to melodrama. I wonder, did Clifford come over? Did she ever go to Europe like she insisted she would? Another intrigue is that she describes a date she went on and how she thought she might run into him, Clifford, at the show. She says she went on a group date with other couples, but clearly she has an intense interest in Clifford. Were they clandestine? Were they in cahoots? Was she a very avant garde and free woman?
Healdsburg and Sacramento aren't that close together. Google Maps says it's a two-hour drive even today. Especially in the late 30s, I don't imagine cars nor highways were quite so ubiquitous, so I wonder how these two met, what their relationship was and what became of it. It occurs to me that for however pushy, immature, and melodramatic she seems (a girl after my own heart!), these two letters were kept, together, for the next 70+ years until they ended up in this antique store. Unless she got them back, he must have kept them. Somebody kept them, through the decades, through entire lives. I know I'll never solve this mystery, but it makes my mind feel so intrigued, and maybe that's the best case. An eternal intrigue of no consequence to me. Something just to tickle my thoughts.