Searching for Susan (Prologue, page 1 of 3)


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If I hadn't resurrected my pre-teenage stamp collection, or my wife hadn't expressed a mild interest in the hobby, the whole adventure never would have begun. It was 1970. I hadn't glanced at my old stamp albums or the box of unsorted commemoratives since I hit puberty twenty years earlier. But television reception ranged from none to poor and we both found sorting the old stamps something interesting to do on quiet evenings.


We were settled in New Hampshire in our first house. I was pleased with my new employment though it called for frequent travel away from our growing family. Visits to Boston, ninety miles away, were often necessary. It was on one of these trips that I stopped in a small hobby shop. In a dusty corner an antique letter chest caught my eye. The case had a round top and was about the size of a shoe box. In it were scores of envelopes, all in the same neat hand writing. All bore a Lynn, Massachusetts postmark, the city of my birth. The stamp interested me enough to choose one of the envelopes randomly. I purchased it, for twenty-five cents.

Later, at home, my wife and I examined my acquisition. The small envelope contained not one, but two different letters, both dated in the summer of 1866. One of the lengthy notes was from a woman in Lynn, Massachusetts; the other from a man in Acton, about twenty-five miles away.

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