Friday, July 14, 2006

True Love, where are you?

I found a stack of letters yesterday. They almost got delivered to the Colburn Transfer station, but when I took a closer look at what I'd just dumped into the garbage can at the old house, I scooped them out of the trash and brought them home with me.

Mixed among old newspapers and magazines were assorted letters written to Bill Love in Louisiana from MCB at Route 1, Box 244-1A, Sandpoint, Idaho--postmarked from August to December 1973. MCB was Marianne Catherine Brown at the time, and Bill Love was Marianne's new flame. We'd met at the 1973 Boy Scout Jamboree, and had enjoyed a "summer romance," as my mother called it.

The plan was that Bill would return to McNeese State University and finish his degree in forestry by December. Then, he'd come West and hopefully find employment. Then, we'd get married. So, in the meantime, we kept up the relationship through hand-written letters to one another---now, that's a novel idea these days: sitting down with pen and paper and writing a letter.

Since that doesn't happen much any more, these "Love letters" were an extra bonus. I haven't had much time to read through them, but the first few lines from that time so long ago indicated a North Idaho potatohead who was certainly smitten with this Luzianna forester. There were concerns about him finding a job. Apparently, I'd sent him information about forestry firms in the area, including Diamond National and some from Montana.

In one letter, I'd spent the weekend in Missoula visiting with my brother Kevin and his wife Joyce.

"I'm afraid I'm being affected more and more each day with the symptoms of LOVE," I wrote. "I keep going through experiences and thinking of how much better it would be 'if Bill were here.' The drive from Missoula to Sandpoint was out of this world with fall beauty. The highway stays along the Clark Fork River, and there are thousands of beautiful color combinations---but you weren't there."

In another letter, I spoke of two twenty-acre plots of land with lots of aspen. Both were for sale, and I'd even inquired from a realtor as to price. Ironically, I heard back then from the oldtimers to stay away from anything on North Center Valley Road because there's no water up there. So, I apparently thought about the land for a while and forgot it.

Having read only three letters so far, I'm anxious to pore through the rest to see what was on my mind back in those days besides this new flame named Love from Louisiana. Maybe the rest of my findings will end up in an upcoming, truly literal "Love Notes" column, but for today I'll share the topper which came at the end of the third letter.

At the time, a young man named Bill Gee was student teaching for me at Sandpoint High School. Apparently, young Mr. Gee (geocaching folks now know him as "Cross Country Shadow") gotten into a discussion about the possibility of my marrying a man named Bill Love. In the letter, a "P.S." appeared: if we ever have a daughter, we can name her 'True," I wrote. "Bill Gee told me if he ever had a son, he'd name him 'Al.'"

Well, all I've got to say after reading that line is that Annie should consider herself pretty lucky that Mom came to her senses by the time of her birth. I'm also pretty sure that Bill Gee did the same once he took a teaching job in Newport and later became a father. Like a good journalist checking the facts, I'll have to call up the Gee residence and ask if Al's there.

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