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By Leslie Fandrich // Theme: Love // Category: Life Stories

Ah, young love in 1943. I published two letters from my Grandparents last year, and I've finally gotten around to transcribing two more. These new letters are just as sweet. It's eight months later, and almost a year and a half after they met. My grandparents are clearly more in love and officially engaged, but have not yet told Eddie's family! There seems to be some urgency too, they just can't wait to be together.

I love reading about their courtship. It's so charming that Eddie wants a studio portrait of Iris. He may decide to break the news of their engagement to his family when he is home, and he wants a proper picture since the snapshots do not do her justice.

He is so complimentary to her. Men: take notes. This is how you woo a lady.

It's also amazing to find a pair of letters in which Iris receives one from Eddie while she is writing hers! Eddie admits to some possessive instincts and the letter from him is clearly making her swoon. Iris says, "I just feel myself making sparks." I swear I giggled when I read that. Such a great choice of words Grandma! 

The handwriting and prose is so beautiful and elegant! I think everyone in love should revive the tradition of letter writing and formal portraits. Wouldn't that be lovely?


High River, Alberta
April 26, 1943

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My Dearest (Eddie),

Seems rather odd that we never discuss our letters when we're together. I've just read your last letter over and find it in need of being answered. There are lots of other things to talk about of course. The feelings I've had down here vanished completely when I went home, so, as I hope you noticed, I was quite on the top while with you.There are a few serious moments but with no connection to this place at all. Going home is such a grand experience - wish you could have been with me all the time.

Guess I told you what I did up until Saturday night when you came down. Sunday was very short but Pat, Gwynne and I went out to Elaine's about 11:30 and came back at about 2:30 but that took about all the extra time I had since I didn't get up until 10:15. It made it miserable to come back at 4 - broke up the day badly.

We really had a grand trip down. Not a dull moment and I didn't care if it didn't end. There were about 15 Innisfail kids on the train. Gwynne and I started out with a sailor as a traveling companion but left him to find Norma as soon as the conductor had taken our tickets.

The bus trip down was okay - big bus for a change - usually have to ride an extra. Sat at the very back so didn't sleep. Have sore ribs so I don't know whether it's from sitting in a kinked position, whether it's from laughing so hard, or from you hugging me so tight. More than likely the laughing. Not accustomed to that.

The old thrill that comes with the thought of you has been renewed. Every time I see you, you seem to mean so much more than the last time.

<break in the letter as Iris receives the following letter from Eddie>


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Penhold, Alberta
April 25, 1943

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My Dearest (Iris),

After having been with you last night even though only a short time, tonight seems very empty and lonely. Thought I'd ward off this feeling today by going to two shows - Big Street and Dr Gillespie's Assistant, besides the Eaton Revue which played tonight,  but haven't succeeded. I had a swell time last night, but just being with you stole the show. I don't know - but even at this stage I learn to love you more deeply each time we meet. Though I didn't want to go to the dance - I experienced a keen pride in finally taking you. You seemed rather radiant and I thought you looked more beautiful than ever before. Sometimes, as several times last night, I am strongly tempted to make a speedier decision towards fulfilling our promises to each other. I know I shan't be happy until I've completely realized on the possessive instincts that well up in me whenever I'm with you.

I haven't decided definitely yet just when I am going to go home, but when I do I shall be looking forward to our plans regarding the weekend in Calgary.

Was going to ask you if there was a photographic studies in High River - if there is I'd like to have a studio picture of you - I'll foot the bill. Should like to have your picture in case I break the news at home and I don't think the snapshots do you complete justice. Mom did see a snapshot of you once - accidentally - and remarked very favorably, but I didn't give her any indication of how matters stood.

Must close so as not to exceed my limit.

Yours, Eddie.


<Iris's letter resumes>

Feel just grand right now. Gwen just came in with a letter from you. We seem to have had the same effect on each other. I don't need to say more, but if I can, I will. Being with you makes me so happy I just feel myself making sparks. To look back I can't remember when I didn't feel this way about you. Wish we could speed up the final decision but I always feel so obliged to make this course pay me something. So far it isn't doing its job and hope for better returns. You put everything in words so beautifully arranged that my efforts seem childish but it's all here inside me and I guess you realize that when we're together. I notice in the first two sentences of this paragraph that the thoughts run parallel to those in your letter, though I wrote them before your letter arrived. It's such a grand letter, makes me feel like I could stand up to anything though the energy seems sapped out of me by the thrill attached to getting one.

Studio portrait of Iris from 1943, wearing a locket that Eddie gave her.

Studio portrait of Iris from 1943, wearing a locket that Eddie gave her.

There is a studio down here and on my travels in the morning I pass it. Have had the intention of having my photo taken ever since I came to Calgary so it won't take much to go there. While I'm at it, I'll have two sittings taken and have one of one done for you and 11 of the other so yours will be exclusive because of special request. But you, of course, won't foot the whole bill. I can't afford it all right now with the wedding coming up, but will have it done right away and pay on any agreement they'll put to me. I've wanted you to have a photo of me but it's a hard thing to get around to having done. I'll go tomorrow to see about it since I have a bit of my last pay left and it's only two days left 'til next pay day.

Keep glancing back to your letter - it's eye catching and my heart bounds terribly. Things do seem quite empty after leaving you at any time, but Sunday morning it was worse than ever. Doesn't seem right to have to part when we're so much in love, even if it's only for two or three weeks. There are several steps to take before it's clear sailing with us, but I think they'll be shallow. The first is the experience of meeting your family and the biggest actual step. I've realized there can't be complete happiness and a definite feeling of security until that day is past.

Shall write again very soon darling. My thoughts are ever with you and I love you so much.

Nighty Night.

Your Iris.


Trailers for the 1942 movies that my Grandpa mentioned in his letter: