VACAVILLE, Calif. – Twenty-one love letters, gracefully aged and preserved in the 72 years since they were written.
Hollie Hannan first discovered them as a young girl, hidden away inside a trunk that belonged to her grandmother.
“When I was younger, I had found them, and she had never read them,” Hannan told KTXL. “I wanted to read them and she wouldn’t let me.”
But after the recent passing of her father, Hannan came across the letters again when searching through old family photos.
The letters were addressed to her grandmother’s younger brother, her great-uncle, Private 1st Class Claude Leslie Shepard. He was a medic in the U.S. Army who first enlisted at age 18.
The letters were written by Claude’s girlfriend.
“Miss Iris Wood,” she said. “And Miss Iris lived on Spencer Avenue in Oroville, California.”
Iris’ letters to Claude are dated between Aug. 29 and Oct. 22, 1946.
“And her last letter indicated that he was coming home the next week,” Hannan said.
Hannan doesn’t know what became of their relationship. A year after Iris’ last letter, Claude was killed in a car accident while home on leave in Oroville. He was just 21 years old.
But what Hannan does know is they clearly loved each other very much.
“She had always opened the letters with ‘honey,’ and closed them with ‘darling,’ and she would tell him multiple times in her letters she loved him, and asked if he still loved her,” she told KTXL.
Hannan believes her great-uncle’s relationship with Iris was meant to be a lasting one.
Since finding the love letters, Hannan has taken to Facebook, hoping someone knows Iris Wood, who lived on Spencer Avenue in Oroville in 1946.
She wants to return the letters to Iris, or her family, and wants to make sure this love story has a happy ending.