December 2, 2023

WWII love letters hidden behind wall in New York home delivered to family 80 years later

It has been reported that love letters have been discovered at a couple’s home in Staten Island, New York.

Carol Bohlin of Tinmouth, Vermont, her parents’ World War II-era love letters provided indelible when they were gifted to her by a stranger who found them 80 years later after they were written.

“I was really so surprised they found these,” Bohlin, 76, told Fox News. “I never expected this.”

Bohlin, the daughter of Claude Marsten Smythe and Marie Borgal Smythe of Staten Island, New York, said that she never knew her parents saved and hid away their only meaning of communication while her father was serving in the U.S. Navy during WW2.

“In the letters, he was very concerned about my mother because she was not well. He called her ‘dearest’ and ‘honey’. He asked about relatives, like an uncle I never met who died of tuberculosis in his early 20s. 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 mentioned.

Bohlin also mentioned that her father used language she remembers hearing from her childhood, such as using the word ‘swell’.

Her family moved from their home in Staten Island after Claude died in 1974.

Here is Claude and Marie Smythe during his U.S. Navy service.

In 1995, Dottie Kearney and her husband purchased Bohlin’s childhood home and while they were renovating, they found handwritten letters behind a wall.

It was reported that the letters fell through a crack in the attic. After reading a few of them, Kearney realized she had found a treasure.

“It’s the most precious love story,” Kearney told Fox News. “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.”

Kearney mentioned she was moved by how beautifully the letters were written and such tiny like, “3-by-5, stationery from the military and [with] military postage.”

Here is one of the letters Kearny found.

“You could tell she opened them with care and cherished them. Everything was still intact. Nothing was smudged, and nothing was discolored. They were pretty amazing.”

Kearny wanted to return the letters to the family but didn’t know how to track them down.

“I couldn’t find any contact information, where I could send them, or who they belonged to. So I put a ribbon around them and kept them in my secretary for years.”

“When we sold the house and moved, I brought the letters with me. I said, ‘One day I’m going to find out where these letters belong.”

28 years later Kearny saw the New York-based heirloom hunter Chelsey Brown, 30, on “The Kelly Clarkson Show”.

She realized she might have found someone to help her track down the owner of the World War II love letters.

“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. “I cannot take on every project people email me about because that would basically be impossible. But I always prioritized Holocaust and war projects.”

Brown used resources to connect Kearny with one of Bohlin’s sons along with Bohlin herself.

“In the end, why did Carol’s parents hide those letters?”

“They wanted to be found one day. Those letters were meant for Dottie [Kearny] to find them.”

Brown said she enjoyed handling the letters because Bohlin’s parents served a lifetime between two people who loved each other.

Bohlin received a package of the letters that Kearny had sent and 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 added. “I miss my mom and dad. It was like they were here again.”