It is said that true love stands the test of time.
For Carol Bohlin of Tinmouth, Vermont, it’s her parents’ World War II-era love letters that proved indelible when they were gifted to her by a complete stranger who found them nearly 80 years after they were written.
“I was really so surprised they found these,” Bohlin, 76, told Fox News Digital.
“I never expected this.”
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Bohlin, the daughter of Claude Marsten Smythe and Marie Borgal Smythe of Staten Island, New York, said she had no idea her parents had saved and hidden away their only means of communication while her father was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“In the letters, he was very concerned about my mother because she was not very well,” Bohlin said.
“He called her ‘dearest’ and ‘honey.’ He asked about relatives, like an uncle I never met who died of tuberculosis in his 20s,” she added.
“He mentioned my grandparents, Willie and Ruth, and wanted to know how they were doing. So, that brought back a lot of things I had heard as a child. I met my grandfather, but he died when I was little,” Bohlin said.
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Bohlin’s father also used language she remembers hearing from her childhood, such as the word “swell,” she said.
The family moved from their Staten Island home after Claude Smythe died in 1974.
In 1995, Dottie Kearney and her husband purchased Bohlin’s childhood home.
While they were doing some renovations, they discovered the handwritten letters behind a wall, according to Kearney.
‘Most precious love story’
The letters seemed to have fallen through a crack in the attic.
After reading a few, Kearney said she immediately realized she’d found a treasure.
“It is the most precious love story,” Kearney told Fox News Digital.
“He called her ‘dearest Marie.’ He told her how he spent 5 cents and treated himself to dinner one night. She kept him alive during the war. He lived for her. It’s like the love story you read about or see in a movie and wish you had.”
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Kearney said she was moved by how beautifully written the letters were — and on such “tiny, like 3-by-5, stationery from the military and [with] military postage.”
“You could tell she opened them with care and cherished them,” Kearney said.
“Everything was still intact. Nothing was smudged, nothing was discolored. They were pretty amazing.”
Kearney said she desperately wanted to return the letters to the family, but did not know how to track down the descendants of the couple.
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“I couldn’t find any contact information, where I could send them or who they belonged to,” Kearney said.
“So I put a ribbon around them and kept them in my secretary for years,” she added.
“When we sold that house and moved, I brought the letters with me. I said, ‘One day I’m going to find out where these letters belong.’”
‘Wanted them to be found’
Twenty-eight years later, Kearney saw New York-based heirloom hunter Chelsey Brown, 30, on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
She realized she might have found someone who could help her locate the rightful owner of the World War II love letters.
“It’s like the love story you read about or see in a movie and wish you had.”
Brown, a New York-based interior decorator, has a passion for reuniting historical artifacts with long-lost family members.
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“The second I realized these were World War II letters, I knew I needed to help Dottie find the rightful descendants of the couple who wrote them,” Brown told Fox News Digital.
“I cannot take on every project people email me about because that would basically be impossible. But I always prioritize Holocaust and war projects,” she said.
Brown used her resources, including the MyHeritage.com database, to connect Kearney with one of Bohlin’s sons — and eventually with Bohlin herself.
“In the end, why did Carol’s parents hide those letters?” Brown said.
“They wanted them to be found one day. Those letters were meant for Dottie [Kearney] to find.”
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Brown added that she enjoys handling letters, especially when they were written during wartime, because they served as a lifeline between people who loved each other.
“I connect with them because you’re reading firsthand accounts from people. You’re reading their thoughts, their feelings, their loves, their hates, their heartbreaks, their passion, their excitement. It’s so beautiful and moving.”
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Bohlin said her parents’ letters confirmed what she remembers about their marriage.
“They had a very good relationship,” Bohlin said.
“They were happy with each other and they loved each other. My father was always concerned about my mother.”
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“And, then when I came along, he was concerned about me. He was a policeman — and he was always concerned and cautious of everything and everyone. And I think that’s why I’m a little cautious of things, too.”
Bohlin said that after receiving the package of letters from Kearney, she sat down with a friend and they read the letters together.
“Sometimes I laughed and then sometimes I cried. I felt like they were here again,” Bohlin said.
“I miss my mom and I miss my dad. It was like they were here with me. And I will always have these letters.”
While texts and emails have all but replaced the art of the handwritten note, Bohlin said letter writing has not been lost in her.
“I still write letters,” Bohlin said.
“My grandmother was a writer, too. It’s just the way I was brought up. It would be nice if people did keep writing.”