An Illinois employee recently became an amateur sleuth after a missing World War II-era letter literally landed at his feet.
Thomas Caulfield, an Elgin Post Office custodian, was moving a filing cabinet during a renovation when the letter, dated Dec. 27, 1944, fell from one of its drawers.
The letter was a V-mail, a document that soldiers abroad could use to pen notes, then fold and seal for mailing.
Sgt. Edward Gathman mailed the note from an Army base in France to his wife, Wilma, and infant son, Bruce, in Elgin.
“Things must be good at home because I see a lot of advertisements in the local paper,” he wrote.
Caulfield, a 30-year USPS veteran, wanted to return the letter, and enlisted the help of his wife, Theresa, an Elgin history buff, to track down the family.
They learned Edward worked at the Elgin Post Office from 1940-1973, including a stint as assistant Postmaster.
The most exciting find: Edward’s son, Bruce, lives in South Carolina.
Caulfield said he was excited to call and speak with “little Bruce from the letter.”
“I have this letter from your father from 1944,” he said. “I’d be honored to get it back to you.”
Caulfield then sent the note to Bruce via Priority Mail.
Following his military service, Edward is believed to have brought the letter from home to keep at work when he returned to his postal job.
“There was a great love between my parents, and that was a way of remembering the difficult separation caused by the war,” Bruce told the Chicago Tribune, which covered the story last month.
Caulfield is happy with the attention the returned letter is receiving.
“With all the stuff going on in the news, it’s nice to read something good,” he said.