When my grandmother, Lee Estelle Wood, was 22 years old, she broke her ankle. While that would normally be considered a painful, inconvenient event, for Estelle it was the beginning of a relationship that would last a lifetime. As she was convalescing, Estelle received a get well card from a childhood acquaintance, Victor Lawrence Doyle. Thus began years of letters exchanged between Estelle, who lived in Baltimore, MD, and Victor, who lived in Wilmington, DE.
What made these letters special was not the contents, although those were precious to the recipients, but the envelopes. Each envelope had a pen and ink drawing on it. Over the years of their courtship and beyond, Victor created over 200 pieces of art on the envelopes of his letters.
The envelope below shows a picture of Estelle, waiting by the phone for Victor’s call. In the 1930’s, when the letters were exchanged, America was in the midst of the Great Depression. There wasn’t much money for “extras”. Phone calls were expensive and train trips were even more, which meant that most communication was in letters. By 1935, when this letter was sent, Victor and Estelle had been corresponding for over a year and were including phone calls. Their weekly “date” usually consisted of a phone call at 7:15 P.M. on Saturday evenings. Between the letters, phone calls, and an occasional trip to Baltimore, Victor courted Estelle from 1933 until 1936.