Somehow, 38 wartime love letters shared between a U.S. Medical Corps doctor who served in Korea and his wife back home in Detroit, Michigan, ended up in a box in a basement in Ontario.
But luckily, that was not the end of them.
Kingsville, Ontario, resident Angela Thompson found the box decades after the letters were written and was touched by its very personal contents.
She tracked down the family of the late veteran, Morris Starkman, and his wife, Betty, reuniting the missing puzzle pieces of a long, loving marriage, reported CBC News.
Morris met his sweetheart Betty on a blind date in 1952. They married on Christmas Day, 1952. Shortly after marrying, the couple were separated when Morris was sent to war. They sustained their long-distance love by writing letters.
Angela had bought a tin box full of old magazines at auction almost eight years ago to make collages. Yet it wasn’t until April 2021 that she went through its contents, finding, to her surprise, 38 of Morris and Betty’s letters. There were also letters from Morris to his sister, Ann.
Angela stopped herself from reading them. “When I realized that they were war letters, I was like, ‘No.’ I know from my grandparents, like, you don’t read that. It’s very personal,” she told CBC News.
She knew immediately that she wanted to return the letters to their rightful owners.
Tracking down Morris and Betty’s obituaries led Angela to the couple’s granddaughter, Meredith Starkman of Brooklyn, New York. They connected on Facebook.
Morris passed away suddenly in 1993 before Meredith was born, and Betty died in 2016. Wishing to learn more about her grandparents’ relationship, Meredith read the intimate correspondence. Betty had founded Michigan’s Jewish Genealogical Society in 1985 and the coincidence of the family history connection was not lost on Meredith.
“That’s again why this is, like, the craziest story,” she told CBC News. “My grandmother’s life was dedicated to this kind of thing, literally looking at family lineage. So finding these has been really like a full-circle situation.
“They were very in love,” she said. “It’s so clear from these letters how much they cared about each other.”
Meredith’s father, Robert Starkman, Morris and Betty’s son, remembers his parents as “wonderful, genuine people.” Yet while supportive of his daughter’s foray into family history, he decided not to read the letters himself: Robert had been chastised for finding them as a child.
Morris, furious, had warned his boy that the letters were personal. Robert has always obeyed his wishes.
“I was very close to my folks,” Robert told the Kingsville Observer. “They were very private people and it means a lot to have these letters back in the family.” He said that, one day, he wants the letters buried with himself and his parents.
Robert suspects that his parents’ love letters ended up in Canada when Betty sold her home in 2013 and moved into assisted living. Marveling at the letters’ reappearance, Robert offered heartfelt thanks to Angela for reaching out to his family when she could so easily have disposed of them.
Angela claimed the story turned out like a movie plot.
“It’s like finding a treasure chest, finding someone’s time capsule and you have no idea who they are or anything about these people,” she told the Kingsville Observer.
“And then you find them. I feel relieved these letters are going to where they need to be.”