EAST ORANGE BY CHRISTMAS
My Father's Love Letters from London, 1933
By John L. Kessell
Memoirs of his parents including love letters from his father to his mother by a well-known Southwestern United States historian.
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Both mature professionals, they fell in love with childlike glee. John and Dorothy had met briefly in New Jersey. A medical doctor from Australia, he was en route to the British Isles to further his education. Friends of Dorothy, also a doctor, had fixed them up on a blind date neither looked forward to. Yet they had fun. When she decided on a summer vacation in England, her best friend and traveling companion Helen broke her leg at the last moment, as if by fate. John happily saw Dorothy around London but thought of her only as a lady doctor from America. Then, in the hospital matron’s sitting room, something happened that changed both their lives. A rushed courtship, a simple wedding in Wesley’s Chapel, and the briefest of honeymoons followed. She sailed home, and John, scarcely believing he was now a married man, stayed on at St. Paul’s Hospital in London.
For three months, the Atlantic separated them. John wrote to Dorothy every morning and every night, never once missing a day. A self-confessed very ordinary man, he revealed much about himself and about how he coped in London during their separation, devising a hundred different ways to express his love for Dorothy. His letters convey a refreshing earnestness and honesty. Although Dorothy’s half of the correspondence has not survived, her mysterious cable, “Come at once!” assured John’s arrival in East Orange by Christmas. This tenderhearted story, based on the love letters John wrote to Dorothy from London in 1933 and including numerous excerpts, is told by their son for those of us who have experienced or imagined the love of a lifetime.
Born in New Jersey and raised in California, John Kessell did not set out to be a professional historian. His work in the 1960s, however, at Tumacacori National Monument in New Mexico, site of a Spanish colonial mission, alerted him to the possibility. Returning to graduate school with new purpose, he earned his doctorate at the University of New Mexico, survived a decade as historian-for-hire, and joined the UNM Department of History. His major historical editing project with colleagues Rick Hendricks, Meredith D. Dodge, and Larry D. Miller resulted in the six-volume Journals of don Diego de Vargas, New Mexico, 1691 – 1704. Kessell is also author of Kiva, Cross and Crown: The Pecos Indians and New Mexico, 1540 – 1840; The Missions of New Mexico Since 1776; and Pueblos, Spaniards, and the Kingdom of New Mexico.
Inside This Book
6 x 9
6 x 9