Modern romance seems to be more elaborate than it used to be. Just asking a young lady to a dance involves a plot, scenery and a script. But the art of writing love letters has been lost in the age of texts and emails.
Taking pen to paper and laying down your heart to the one you love is an act of bravery and romance.
“August 24, 1944, My Dearest Boyd, It is now the day after — we were married — and you made the most happy girl in the world! I guess that the three most incomplete words in the world are “I love you.” I mean they don’t say even a fraction of the way I feel!”
Boyd and Gail Thomas eloped to Ogden, Utah, on Aug. 23, 1944. They met at the University of Utah and fell in love. The world was an unsettled place and they were both just 19, but they couldn’t stand the thought of being apart. So, without telling anyone they boarded a train to Ogden and were married by a justice of the peace.
They spent as much time together as they could, but he went home to his parents and she to hers every night. To keep their secret, they carried on with their lives as normally as possible, going to school, working and staying with their families. The things that kept them going were stolen moments together and love letters they exchanged in class.
Boyd wrote to her in one letter, “I can hardly wait till I read your note. I take you out tomorrow night. Just think tomorrow at this time we’ll be dancing and you’ll be in my arms. I can hardly wait.” They planned dates and their time together through letters and expressed their anticipation of when they could see each other.
Unable to be together until their secret was discovered, they poured out their love in the letters. Gail wrote, “All I want to do is think about you. That is the next best thing when you aren’t here — no lie — I love you and I will for ever and ever!!! I love you — I love you — I can’t say it enough!” Boyd responded with declarations of his own, “I don’t know what to say except what I’ve told you so many, many times, and that is — I love you Gayle Clark! I hope you don’t get tired of hearing it, because I will never get tired of telling you.”
Their secret was finally discovered after a few months, and it was due to a letter. Boyd’s mom found one of his letters and saw that it was signed “Your loving wife.” She was not too happy and confronted him, but after the initial furor everything settled down and they were able to start their lives together for real. They raised three children together and were married for 52 years before Boyd passed away.
In the letter from Aug. 24, 1944, the day after they were secretly married, Gail wrote, “So in the life to come I will prove to you by actions and everything the most perfect love in the whole world! We have a very long time — forever in fact to be together, to have fun and everything like that because you are my husband — my very own — and I will try all my life to be worth that. When we are very old I will still love you, perhaps even more — if that could be possible!”
They did love each other more and more as the years went by. The love never dimmed but only grew stronger. Boyd used to carry the snippet of a poem in his wallet that summed up their life together. It said, “Grow old along with me — the best is yet to be.” It was found after he died, and when Gail followed him a few years later, the yellowed piece of paper was put in the casket with her.
Clyde Clark and Glenna Erickson were mostly opposites. He was tall and thin to the point of being a stick. She was tiny, not quite 5 feet tall. He was rough around the edges and was mostly concerned with academic pursuits. She had been raised in a big Mormon family. He was quiet and reserved with a quiet, mischievous sense of humor. She was full of fun and the life of the party. And yet they found each other and decided to marry. They were opposites who came together to make one whole.
For a time before they married, they were separated as he worked at a mine in Eureka and she stayed in Springville. They wrote letters of love to stay connected. It was a more reserved time, and to see their true feelings you have to read between the lines. They were shy in their correspondence and it was almost as if they were afraid to share their feelings before the other person did first.
Clyde was working in the mine in 1921, and lonesome for his sweetheart he wrote in September, “I certainly felt better Tuesday after work when I came up from the mine and read your letter. You sure do write nice letters and they cheer a fellow up wonderfully. But they also make me think of the good times I am missing by staying up here in the mountains. I feel sometimes like I am in jail. I don’t think about Provo so much as I do Springville.”
Glenna worried about his life at the mine, “Clyde, I dreamed about you last night. I thought you came back down and said you were going to stay down here because the work up there was too dangerous. I wish that was true. But listen, please be careful and don’t get hurt will you?”
Then Glenna opened up a little, “We went on our hike last night and oh we had lots of fun. But today I am so stiff and tired I can hardly live. We went way up in the canyon and had the most wonderful fire you ever saw. Once Niva and I were there all alone and we were both just sitting there looking into the fire. All of a sudden I looked up and offered her a penny for her thoughts and she was thinking about the same thing as I was. She said she was just wishing that you and Gil was there instead of the other girls. We sure had a good laugh over it. She said that she knew by the look on my face that my thoughts were a long ways away and she surely guessed it. I have been awfully nice so far. Have refused every date that has been offered me. Clyde please write me a great big letter.”
Clyde opened up as well. He wrote, “Dear Glenna, Received your letter today and feel about a thousand percent better already. I thought I would go crazy before I heard from you. The other night I went to the top of a big hill close by and looked towards Springville with a pair of glasses but couldn’t see very much. All I could do was wish I was there with you.”
It was a hard time being apart, but the letters kept them close. They told each other of their everyday lives and family stories and even tried to make each other jealous occasionally. Finally, Clyde came home and shortly after they were married and built a life together.
Texting and using email are fun ways to communicate but are so fleeting. These letters of love from the 1940s are permanent records of love found, loved shared and love everlasting.
After attending BYU and the University of Utah for five years and not being able to settle on just one major, Connie Lewis decided to be a writer so she could keep studying all things wonderful and new.