It’s sad how quickly the details of family history can fade. I asked my dad and his sister if they knew their parents’ anniversary or any details of their marriage, but they really can’t think of much.

I discovered in their last letters to each other that they spoke often of Easter because that was the day they planned to wed. As their wedding day neared, they sweetly began calling each other “husband” and “wife” in anticipation of the day it would be true.

In one letter from Princella (Prince) to Tom, she wrote “Thinking of my ‘Beloved’ Husband” across the top. They always numbered the pages in some way but in this one, each of her four pages are numbered as: XXX=I=XXX, XXX Remain XXX, XXX True XXX, XXX To You XXX.

One of Tom’s letters to Prince begins with a flowy cursive “Tom loves you” with hearts between the words. The pages are numbered as: One love X, and XX, that XXX, is you XXXX.

Their love and enthusiasm for each other is clear on every inch of each page. Prince writes in one letter of her anticipation of Easter as:

“The day when the preacher says, ‘I now pronounce you man and wife,’ I will be the happiest thing on earth, for just think, I will get to be with you every day and at all times as long as we live. Two million years is not enough time for me to be with you, Dear.

“I am sure when we live together for awhile as you said, that we will become more devoted and more fond of each other and will live together happily forever.”

Tom wrote of two different ideas for the wedding day, and I assume the second came after some discussion of how the first one might not work. He first wrote:

“It seems like everybody wants to tease me about marrying but they don’t make much off of me, because I am not ashamed of it, are you?

“I have been studying a plan today how to carry it out and this is it. I think it would be nice for us to be married at your house in the room where we have done all of our courting, and then go to (Huldah?) to spend the night. Think of that and tell me what you think about it. If that suits you we will do it that way. It suits me.”

He later wrote, in what appears to be his last letter to her before the big day:

“Listen sweetheart, suppose we be married at my house and go over to brother Bob’s and spend the night, have supper with them and then on Sunday we will eat dinner with your mother, and Sunday night come home to our own table? How would that suit you? If that suits we will do that.”

In those days there were no wedding registries, no frilly invitations sent to all the closest friends and family, no opulent party with fancy finger foods and festive drinks. Their only concern was their love for each other and the chance to begin their lives together.

In one of her last letters, Prince wrote:

“Just thinking of it — it won’t be long now will it dear? I just don’t know how I’m going to wait, but guess maybe I can, though, or at least I’m trying as hard as I can to wait. Now that is all that is required of me, isn’t it?

“I surely did hate to see you leave walking last night, for it is so far down to your house and it being cold and muddy, too. I just wished I had had a car to let you go home in, if I had you would have been more than welcome to go home in it.

“I am always worried about you from the time you leave up here until I hear from you. I can’t ever tell what might happen to you, there are so many mean people in the world nowadays that it isn’t hardly safe to get out. But thank God it won’t be always that you will have to do that.

”I just wish there were words to express my love for you and just how much I appreciate you. I am satisfied with our love for each other and would do anything within my power that would be for your benefit, and to make you happy. To see you happy is all it takes to make me happy. Heart’s love, Prince”

Tom was just as thrilled, anticipating their life together, writing:

“Just think it’s not as long as it has been, but that is too long to wait. I am so thrilled until I can’t hardly write. I can see you as I walk into the room on that day. Do you know what I am thinking right now on a windy night like this? Maybe you can guess. (All cozy it would be in bed.) Darling, let’s hope for peace in our little home. I know we will if we try, and we should try. You can make me blue or you can make me happy just like I said. Let’s don’t forget it.”

Oh, the dreams of the young and in love!

Prince worries in one of her letters about how Tom had to walk home the night before. She was worried for his safety with all the “mean people in the world these days.” Tom answers her concerns in his next letter, saying:

“Listen, you were wondering if I had to walk home Sunday night. Don’t let that worry you, for if I did not love you I would not walk one step. For I didn’t ever care that much about any other girl, until I saw you.”

I hope this Valentine’s weekend finds you celebrating with the one worth walking for. And may we all live as happily ever after as Tom and Princella.

Monica Sheppard is a freelance graphic designer, beekeeper, mother and community supporter living in Rome.

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