Monday, March 21, 2011

Decoding Love Letters in 1910

A little Easter Card from Hugh to Marion. 1911 (before this letter below or 1912, I wonder.)

Many letters in the 1910 era were written in code or partial code, for you never knew who might get their hands on it.

Love letters were especially cryptic.

Now, in September 1911 Hugh Christian Blair, my husband's grandfather, blew off a previous girlfriend, Jean, in a long letter and signed it, Your sincere friend, Hugh.(I have a copy.)

Hugh steps gingerly here in this letter to Marion, who he will propose to in May 1913, never mentioning his feelings, but perhaps the sign off gives hime away. Believe me your sincere friend, HughIE.

This letter is at Christmastime. Marion is in Richmond, with her family and he has returned from visiting his family in Three Rivers (about 2 hours away from both Montreal and Richmond.)Clearly, Hugh did not get an invitation to visit the Nicholsons at Christmas... or did he?

Courtship is rocky, and always been, and Marion says of Hugh,in a letter to her Mom "Sometimes I like him, sometimes I hate him, but I don't know what I would do without him." Now that's a dead giveaway: She's in Love.

The fact that Edith and Flo, Marion's sisters have nicknamed Hugh "ROMEO" also says something.

Now, the fact that Marion has sent Hugh a present might also be a giveaway. In a 1900 item called "Advice to Girls" from an American Magazine it is written;" Well bred girls do not receive valuable presents from men, whether they like them or not. A young lady can receive a Christmas gift from a man she knows well but should not give a present to a man unless engaged or related to them under any circumstances."

Hugh coyly doesn't mention what the gift is and there seems to be some inside joke around a teddy bear he might have sent to Marion but she had not received.

Perhaps she presented him with a gift but he had none for her, believing that giving a gift would be too strong a statement. Or perhaps he had sent her a gift that wasn't a teddy bear but something nicer, like jewelry and it got stolen.

Remember, Hugh had only recently extricated himself from a situation where the woman believed that 'they had an understanding' and he did not.

Dear Marion,


December 27th, 1911

I succeeded in getting home in good time on Saturday evening after a very pleasant trip down amongst a lot of old acquaintances who just happened to be traveling on the same train as I was (or vice versa, if you prefer.)

I was very pleased to find all mine in Rivers (Three Rivers) enjoying good health and cheerfulness.

Upon my return to Montreal, which was last night, I was very much surprised to find a parcel waiting for me in my room, bearing my name and address, and opening same, was still more so of the contents.

Now Marion, I wish you to accept my heartiest thanks for your handsome gift, as I am sure you could not have selected anything that could give me pleasure than the present one.

I wish to say that I really cannot express in words how much I appreciate it and certainly am very much indebted to you for your kindness.

Regarding what you say of having not received what you supposed that I was calling a Teddy Bear and proved quite different, is really not what I meant when I mentioned it to you.

As I really did send you one, but to your Montreal address. I am led to believe that it has either gone astray in the mail or that someone has helped himself to it. If the latter they surely got a good sell.

As I do not wish to try your kind patience any longer, I will bring this to a close by wishing you to be kindly remembered to your sister along with my sincere good wishes to yourself for a Happy New Year.

Believe me your sincere friend,