Laura New is a friend of my dear Bethan. She is an artist who works with paper ephemera - often dating back to the 30s and 40s. Her most recent work is based on a batch of letters she unearthed, from early summer 1946 by a James B. Mott, a soldier, to his sweetheart and fiancée Miss Ruth Mae Jordan. The letters were kept safely by Ruth for many years, though I don't know where Laura found them. Since her own man is a soldier, she holds them in great reverence and she's transcribed each letter carefully... before she then illustrated a beautiful bird onto them.
My Dearest Darling Sweetheart - One. © Laura New
This is the transcription of the letter in full - it's lovely!
“My Dearest Darling Sweetheart,
Well honey, I finally made it into camp. Our bus broke down and we didn’t get in till this morning.
Gee, I’m really sleepy. We don’t have to go to classes until this afternoon and thought that I would write you a little bit this morning and write more tonight. I am also sending a page of a letter that I started on Friday, and didn’t finish it.
Mae honey, I can’t get you off my mind – as if I wanted to. I think of you all the time.
Boy, did I really hear some wild tales about different boys and their liberties. Some of these fellows are really wild and another thing that I want you to remember – when you go swimming this summer – watch your bathing suit so that it isn’t loose because a lot of the boys tell of what they saw looking down girl’s suits. But you know all of that.
Honey, did you get that little round metal pin with the writing on it. You wouldn’t have it now but you should by the time this letter gets to you. I wasn’t sure if it would get thru.
I’m awfully silly honey, but I know one thing for sure, we are meant for each other. We love with a love that is more than just plain love because you and I – well, I don’t know what to say so that I can make you understand. I have a feeling that you are always with me everywhere I go.
More this evening, baby, loads of love to you dear xo
Well sweet, here I am, and boy do I feel good. I didn’t get one letter today. I didn’t get two, but I got three from you and one from mom. The ones I got from you were the ones that you mailed at Lexington. They made me feel awful good. They were really sweet, but I haven’t gotten those nine letters yet. I am anxious to see that ninth letter.
Here I am, laying on my bunk – thinking of you and wishing very much that we were together. I am pretty tired. I just finished some washing before I started writing at the bottom of page 2.
I washed three T shirts – two pairs of shorts, three handkerchiefs, a pillow case and a mattress cover, and a hat. It was a pretty big washing for me. It will really be swell when we have our own home and you and I can go down in the basement and do the washing with our own machine. I will help you when I am not working, that is – if you want me to.
Gee honey – I don’t see how I am going to stand it till I see you next.
There is one thing that I want you to remember. If by some chance – you would hear that I was killed – missing – or something like that, honey – don’t give up hope until you are sure the facts are true. If anything does happen and you find out for sure that I am gone, I want you to try to forget me and try to find someone else – but not unless you are sure I am not still alive. This may sound silly – but a funny feeling has been in my mind about that it’s all _____ - I just told you because when I can’t understand something or need comfort – I talk to you and feel lots better.
Your loving future Husband,
baby I will love you forever x”
Bethan has another piece of hers where a bird is painted onto a piece of sheet music, which is fabulous.
Laura's exhibition is on at the Gallery Café in Bethnal Green until 31st July and I plan to go along. I am seriously considering buying one! Have a look on her website to see more of the letters.
So what do you guys think? A lovely way of preserving a beautiful piece of ephemera? Or would you prefer the letters kept as they are but folded into an envelope and unseen?
All comments welcome but do please be mindful that Laura will read this!
Edit: loads of people wishing they could find out what happened to them... I found this obituary of Ruth Mae Jordan Sammons... right name, birthday and location... seems they never did get married! But she found another lovely man anyway, silver linings!