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Archive for March 8th, 2011

Letters delivered years after they were sent are always fascinating, sort of like time-capsules from another era. The latest case involves two letters sent during World War II that finally reached their destinations (sort of). The common thread is that both involved Camp Roberts, California…

On May 17, 1943, Lt. Mervin Teig wrote a letter home from the sprawling Army base north of Paso Robles. He had signed up for military service 10 days after Pearl Harbor and just wanted to let the folks know he was still OK.

“How’s good old Iowa?” he wrote. “Has Tilford cracked up the Ford yet? If he’s smart, he’ll stay there and feed the pigs and polish the Ford. I see too many of these young fellows in uniform out here.”

The young officer saw combat in Europe, emerged unscathed and, after a business career in Mason City, Iowa, died about 10 years ago. His younger brother Tilford stayed on the farm.

About a month ago, Tilford Teig received a phone call from a person whose name and position he didn’t catch. The caller asked whether Teig wanted an old letter sent by Mervin to their parents, who are long deceased.

The man could have been from the Postal Service’s “mail recovery center” in Atlanta — a facility known during a less euphemistic era as the “dead letter office,” where workers try to puzzle out the proper destinations for millions of errant items.

And then, just a little later…

McMaster is trying to locate a Miss R.T. Fletcher — the addressee of the letter delivered to Camp Roberts just two weeks ago. That’s more than 66 years since Aug. 9, 1944, when the letter was postmarked in Montgomery, Ala.

“It just came right in with the rest of the mail,” he said. “There was no explanation.”

The return address was torn off the envelope when it arrived, and McMaster doesn’t feel right about reading the letter inside.

“I respect privacy,” he said. “And we wouldn’t want to get the institution in trouble by violating postal regulations.”

Now that’s weird. I can see a couple of Twilight Zone-style stories in this.

I wonder if they’ll ever find Miss Fletcher?

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