LETTER TO A LOST LOVE Letter lost behind a wall for maybe a century tells of a love-sick suitor seeking the hand of a young woman. The mystery: Did she ever answer? By SANNE SPECHT Mail Tribune When the long-buried love note slipped out from behind the baseboard of the historic Galvin House in Grants Pass, no one could resist reading the carefully penned prose. And now everyone wants to know, "Did Rose write back to Fred?"
"Rose darling," begins Fred’s plaintive request, which was mailed to a Miss Galvin with a 1-cent stamp on some long-ago Tuesday of an indecipherable year.
In flowing black script, Fred fills four small weather-yellowed pages telling Rose of his decision to leave the resolution of their relationship squarely in her hands.
"The more I study it, the less I know what to do, at last have come to the conclusion to let it be decided by you," Fred writes. "Whatever you say I will do."
But Fred also expresses his peeved frustration with Rose’s mother, an apparent thorn in his romantic side.
"It won’t be so hard to get rid of me as your mother thinks," writes the self-described "bad funny."
"I have a little pride. It isn’t my fault. I inherited it."
Fred also laments the mother’s apparent mistrust of him because he is not Catholic.
"The idea a young lady twenty years old that can’t be trusted two blocks from home, the probability is if I were a Catholic she would trust you to the end of the world with me, but it is my fate not to be one and not likely to be very soon either," Fred writes.
Owners Denise and Robert Holland, who purchased the Galvin House in January, have a framed document describing the home’s early history.
The home was moved to its current location, 204 N.W. E Street in Grants Pass, after being built on another vacant lot purchased by John Galvin in 1889. The Hollands did not know when the house was moved.
Galvin lived in the house with his wife, Ellen, and son Thomas until he died in 1900.
In 1902, a fire which began in the Hotel Delmonico destroyed several homes in the original neighborhood. But the Galvin house remained intact. Son Thomas and his wife, Vera, remained in the house after Ellen died in 1910.
Thomas, a fireman with the Southern Pacific Railroad, died in 1930. But Vera lived in the house until she sold it in 1952 to Q.E. and Alice Opal Buran. The Burans sold the home one year later to Dr. Merlin J. Stone, who turned the home into his office. In more recent years, the home has housed several other businesses, including an Italian restaurant and a health food store, says Denise Holland.
Speculation continued unabated among the Hollands on Valentine’s Day as the sun dipped and shadows filled the small porch. Could the widowed Vera be the meddling mother of Rose, they wondered?
The Hollands and their contractors, Dewey Sorensen and Scott Richardson, all have a love of history, they say. Sorensen is always on the lookout for bits of antiquities when working in old homes, he says.
"I love genealogy," says Sorensen. "What a great treasure this letter might be to someone."
The four accidental sleuths continued to squint for clues in the letter, envelope and dates in the framed document. Did Vera take in boarders in the old two-story house to help make ends meet? Was Fred a boarder? Or was he a neighbor?
The letter seems to hold a clue.
"Sweetheart you will have to write and let me know what I am to do, for I won’t come over any more because I won’t give your mother the satisfaction of telling me my room is worth more than my presence."
But why was the letter tucked in the wall? Did Rose hide it from her mother? asks Richardson — who found the stained note on Friday.
Or was it the mother who hid it? counters Sorensen.
"If the letter was delivered to the house, I wonder if Rose ever saw it," Sorensen says. "The mother could have kept it and hid it."
In closing, Fred writes, "Think well darling before you write to the one that loves you better than life. Lovingly, Fred."
Today Sorensen and Richardson will continue to turn the house into offices for the Hollands’ financial management company. But the Fred and Rose question still begs to be answered, they say.
" ‘If walls could talk,’ they say," says Sorensen. "In this case, they really did."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.