By Sherri Rabinowitz:
Who would think that a lifetime of happiness could be received from a letter? Especially a letter that wasn’t sent to you. My dad was in the Air Force in the 50’s. He was a tall, handsome man with raven-black wavy hair and piercing sky-blue eyes. He was stationed in Greenland. It was very boring working there; you were not allowed to mingle with the natives and there was nothing much to do but play poker, drink, and read. He loved to read, so that was okay, but he missed talking to girls.
Meanwhile back in Rhode Island, my mom was dating some nice young local men. None of them touched her heart though. Her mom, (my grandma), gave her a clipping about writing to the troops.
“My mother said that I should write to our friend of the family who was a Jewish chaplain in the service. He was a rabbi and a very nice man.” My mom shrugged and said, “So I wrote to him saying that I would like to write to some serviceman and sent a picture.”
Dad had told me that the rabbi was a poker buddy of his, so he knew him very well. “We would discuss books, we both loved Science Fiction. We found it fascinating how World War II affected books and movies, making the threat even scarier. We got along.”
One day the rabbi received my mom’s letter. Dad saw her picture and said, “She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Without the rabbi knowing (even though he was a friend of mine, I felt compelled to do it—I was entranced), I took the letter and her picture, and I decided to write a response. I introduced myself and I sent a picture of myself in return. It was only fair, since I had hers.”
Mom wrote back again, and they exchanged correspondences for ten months, really enjoying each other’s letters. When Dad came home, my mom invited him to visit her in Rhode Island. Surprisingly my grandparents, who were very conservative, actually offered Dad a room.
Dad told me, “I was scared. I almost canceled. Your mom was so wonderful, I had to go. I called her before I was to leave and asked if she was sure it was okay.”
My mom smiled when I told her that Dad had told me that. “I remember that. I told him of course it was okay. I had to put my mother on the phone.” That reassured Dad, and he came.
My mom said, “It was really weird, none of my friends knew I was even writing to your father. When I was out with your dad, we ran into one of my friends who tried to pump me to find out where I was hiding him, he was so handsome in uniform.” Dad thought it was really funny that they were so curious about him.
Dad was pretty bowled over by Mom; when she opened the door, his first word was “Wow!”
Ten days later, they were engaged. They had a beautiful wedding, and they were together for 52 years. Till my beloved Dad died.
Mom says that Dad was the love of her life. She was so blessed and happy that Dad came into her life. She showed me the sweet letter that Dad had written to her and showed me which picture of hers she’d sent with the letter, as well as the picture Dad sent in exchange. To think that I have seen them so many times, and yet I never knew.
It’s amazing what can happen with one letter and a stolen picture.