Thursday, September 18, 2008

1944-04-10 - Janet Neville Letter

This envelope held two letters. The first was from "Bob" who wrote from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. The second letter appears to have been written by Miss Neville in response to Bob's letter. The second letter was left unfinished. Of interest in these letters are Miss Neville's very neat handwriting; Bob seeing Mexican Hayride in New York; and a bit of Latin that could be a code or a simple mistranslation.

Mexican Hayride was a Cole Porter play that opened on Broadway in 1944. Bob would have seen it about three or four months after it opened.

The Latin phrase used in the letter could have been simply misinterpreted or could have been a sly way of saying something else. Assuming that Latin was a fairly common subject in the 1940's, it is doubtful that an unauthorized reader would have been unable to read the phrase.

Letter One:

[begin letterhead]
The Hotchkiss School
Lakeville, Conn.
[end letterhead]

Dearest Janet,

It was too damn bad about the Chicken Pox, but I guess I had to get it some time! I’m back at school now and way behind in my studies, but at least I’m in the last lap! I’m just awful [sic] sorry I didn’t get to see you more often. This June we’ll go out and have some real fun! I went to a play in New York, Mexican Hayride! It was really awfully funny. You’d love it. I’m practicing up on the [begin page 2] Chinese Checkers so I can beat you some time! (Maybe!) Has that girl out West come up in her studies yet! I sure hope you get to go out because I know you’ll love it. I sure did. Well, Jan, take care of yourself and be good. Remember – Amor vincit omnia! Now what does that mean? Oh yes. A stitch in time gathers no moss [the Latin phrase “amor vincit omnia” actually translates to “love conquers all”]. Thank that over.

A heartful [sic] of love,


Letter Two:

[begin letterhead]
West Chester
[end letterhead]

Dear Bob,

I suppose by now you have decided that I don’t know how to write and I don’t blame you. I’m really sorry I didn’t write sooner and my excuse is that I’ve been very busy, especially with school work. Life around here is very dull now with everyone back at school and settled down to the old grind again.

I don’t think I’ll get to California and right now I’m going [letter ends here]


- Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved on September 16, 2008 from
- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1944-02-20 - Janet Neville Letter

This envelope and letter have been abused by time. The envelope shows signs of the normal wear and tear of age but also some rough handling by the recipient, Miss Neville. The sender, Mr. Smith again, was writing from Westminster School.

Again, we know little about Miss Neville and Mr. Smith beyond what we've already learned. Items of interest in the letter include Mr. Smith's knee healing (but still sore); Scarlet Fever hits Westminster School (resulting in quarantines); and Mr. Smith's eldest brother getting married a month before.


H. Lawrence Smith
Westminster School
Simsbury, Connecticut
Febuary [sic] 20, 1944

Dear Janet

I received your letter the other day and to tell you the truth I was a bit surprised. It was a very nice one too and I liked it a great deal. I also like the smell of it because it brings back memorys [sic] of the fun I once had.

You said something about Dinie “pining over Bill Rich” are you sure that doesn’t mean panting. I gather from the first of the letter she is [in] love with him. Bill is a very good mate for her, just her type a little bit co-co [sic] or nuts in the head.

My knee is almost healed and it feels swell. I can do a great deal more than I have done during the past month. I need no cane to get around with any more and I sure am glad. The only thing I miss is going to Hartford and having a cigarette [the word “butt” is crossed out here] and a good meal. You say you hurt yourself going down that little mole hill in front of your house, my gosh if you can’t stand up on such a simple hill as that I would try and do something which I could do more easily. But if you insist oppone [sic] skiing, a wonderful sport, remember to keep one ski a bit in front of the other and flex (bend) you [sic] knees up and down and you [sic] find better results.

Dinie isn’t much of a two timer, who is this Courtney, he sounds like a jerk. Have I ever seen him before, dose [sic] he know brother Sam, if so I guess he will pass. But just in case you would like to know there is nothing [begin page two] between Dinie and me and never was thank god [sic] but I am going to write her and find out if I can find any time in which to write another letter after this.

Won’t you please tell me [unknown word] [unknown word] wrote that letter for crying-out-loud. I really am curious I know I isn’t Dinie’s handwriting and it looks a little like your handwriting but I am not sure I think you would give credit to someone elce [sic] but that’s besides the point.

For your information the picture you had printed for me was me last winter. The person who took it was a very handsome boy 16 and is a very good photograph. It was too bad he didn’t get my head in, I had an awful expression on my face.

If you would really like to know how I can write such a long letter I will tell you. It is much easier to write a long letter at a boarding school because you can write it in stages as I do. I started this letter Thursday night in evening hall and will most likely finish it on Saturday night or sooner. It all depends how I feel when I write somebody. When I write a girl I must get in the right mood, but once I get started I usually can keep on going for a long time as you have experienced. If I think of something I just write it down. I can remember when I had to write over two hundred words in a letter when I wrote the family, gee that was hard, it is just second nature to me now. I invaribly [sic]will write five or six hundred words I never have written over an eight page letter to anybody latly [sic] but I am soon going to try and beat it.

I suppose you saw that valentine [sic] [begin page three] that Dinie sent me. It sure was a funny one especially what she wrote on it. Ha! Ha! I can’t see where she gets such foolish ideas. The only thing is some day she may be right. I hope. At the end of your letter you said not [to] believe a word she wrote, well [to] tell you the truth may-be your [sic] right, on the other hand you may not be.

How do you like the new point of my pin [sic]. I always have wanted a small point, the only thing about this point is that it scratches. It’s an old pen I took from my brother’s desk. (I didn’t like it).

We have one case of scarlet fever here at school. Everybody is on quarintine [sic], except for the ones who have had it, or are immune to the disease. The infirmy [sic] is trying to get some surong [sic] so we can take the Dick Test and find who is imuned [sic] and who isn’t. I have had it so I [am] not worried. If we get one more case we will have to call of [sic] the play and the dance week-end, that would be bad. I hope it won’t stop us from having our spring vacation, I am pretty sure it won’t.

Well I have run out of word [sic] and it [sic] about time I wrote my oldest brother and congratulate him on his marriage. He’s been married a month and I haven’t written him yet, oh dear.

Say help to Dinie when you see her and tell her not to do anything I [begin page four] wouldn’t do.

Please! Write! Me! [image of several exclamation points of various sizes]


P.S. How much do I owe you count in that picture.

$1.00 scarf [sic]
.65 money I aqumulated [sic] from you

I will send you the money in my next letter, that is if you will write me back sooner than you just did.

I hope you will write me soon.


[image of various shapes and lines]


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The UFO Family Brand

This is a bit of a personal post from a member of our UFO Team. On his son's first birthday, he got a tattoo on his leg. His son is named after his great-great-grandfather, William Richard. The brand is a "Bar Q" brand, currently registered in a mid-western state by living family members.

Our UFO Team member neglected to ask how long the brand has been registered and in use, but he believes it to date back to his grandfather.


  1. Yes, it hurt, a lot.
  2. No, the shaved area will not stay shaved in an effort to "better display the tattoo."
  3. It's a brand, as in a cattle brand, not a cereal or shoe brand.

- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Local UFO

Updated 9/2/2008.

While this local walker is not a part of the Official UFO Team, we feel she deserves an honorary membership at least.

The local UFO was referenced again in another local paper.

- The Journal Press, Retrieved on August 20, 2008 from

Monday, August 18, 2008

1944-02-18 - Janet Neville Letter

This letter has no return address on the envelope. However we can see that Miss Neville is living in "Hawthorne" in West Chester, Pennsylvania. While this could be Hawthorne Lane just east of town, the UFO Team firmly believes "Hawthorne" refers to the name of the building Ms. Neville is living in or the school she is attending (just look at the address on this letter from last year).

The Madeira School, which "Doll" (the write of this letter) attended, has a most interesting history. No other information could be found about the letter writer or the two Bills. The Mask & Wig Club appears to be some sort of satirical theater troupe based in Pennsylvania.



The Madeira School
Greenway, Fairfax County

Dearest Nev-

Oh: what a wreck I am. We have had exams all this week. My hard ones are all over though. Mon. I had English Tues. French yesterday Latin and I still have Geom. To go but that is a snap. If it weren’t for exams this week would be devine [sic]. The food has been super and we have had tea every day. [begin page 2] I am now sitting in the dining room writing (undoubtly) [sic] all of us who don’t have exams have to. Most of them are reading mushy magazines.

Did I tell you that Billy asked me up to the Mask & Wig. I really think it is funny. You know he didn’t write me all the 1st term. Well some time [sic] in the last of January I got this letter from him. I really don’t know what’s comming [sic] off. Of course I couldn’t go because it [begin page 3] was last week end & I had exams to study for. I wrote him back and told him and he said he would send all the things about it, programs so forth. I have heard only once from Larry. I answered it and haven’t heard since. And we just don’t talk about the two Bills. I haven’t heard from Foulke for three weeks and Rich hasn’t written yet. Has he written Diane?

This week end is going to be marvelous we don’t [begin page 4] have any work and this Saturday four of us are going into Washington to celebrate.

That is really all there is for now, write soon and be good.

Lots of love

PS. What Bob are you talking about I don’t know any Bob.


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Gest of Robin Hood

Since the UFO Team is a bit preoccupied with other commitments, we'll be sharing this little tidbit from Scotland. While our favorite is the Robin Hood (or Robyn Hode) story, the rest are still worth a look.

National Library of Scotland. Retrieved on August 11, 2008 from Brian Ruckley's blog via Gabriele Campbell's blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1944-01-20 - Janet Neville Letter

Ms. Neville received another letter from H. [Henry] Lawrence "Lawry" Smith. This one on some nice letterhead. Most notable in this letter was the amount of words, lines, and sections Lawry crossed out. He either was not sure what he wanted to write or changed his mind after reading it.

Mr. Smith wrote from the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut. We were unable to determine what the "H.Y.P.Y.E.Y.D." stands for.


January 20, 1944
Dear “Miss Janet Meville” [sic]

I have received your letter and I am what one might call a bit surprised. Some of it was very amusing but other parts of it made my poor little face turn red as a tomato. One thing I want to get straight in that small head, [“such” is crossed out] that is the letter “S.W.A.K”. I was forsed [sic] to write those letters by my roommate. He did not tell me what they ment [sic] till after I had mailed the letter. I felt like killing him but he is to [sic] swell a guy. It doesn’t mean what you said it does. Cut out by sensore [sic] [this is circled with a connecting line to “wasn’t my bad”]. I know you know what it means and so I am very sorry and I hope you will take it as a joke. [“At the moment I” is crossed out] (wasn’t my bad) [this is the part connected to “Cut out by sensore” [sic]]. About keeping my New Years resolution. I know for a fact that I will use no profanity because the other night I had a long talk with the headmaster and he gave me three swats to remember our talk. When [could be “where”] he hit me it still hurts. As for the drinking so far, I have done none. Drinking is an awful thing and if I ever come back to W. C. [presumably West Chester] I will not touch even a drop.

[I guess Dolly was right maybe it was you, never trust a woman or girl [“Listen here, I don’t want some” is crossed out]. What scarf you are going to send me better not be what I think it’s going to be. I think when you were eight years old you made the scarf I think that is not quite fair, as I am the one who has to shell out the one dollar. I didn’t think [“you were” is crossed out and labeled with “forget about this” and “you can’t resist”] I was as dumb [end of page 1] as I look because I not. I think you will have to nit [sic] another one and also send me the two of them, the new one and the one you made six years back.” - This whole section is marked out and labeled with “Forget about this” on the first page “and this” on the second page]

I can’t believe you were on skies you of all people, skiing my land [could be “lord”] I don’t know what you will do next. The hill you went down four times, how long and how steep. I betya [sic] that it wasn’t very long or steep.

You said in the letter you wrote me that it would probably lower your exam marks. List on the last letter I wrote cause [sic] me to fail two exams both for the year and the term. The mark [sic] were bad – and I mean bad [image of a small circle with dots inside] mark. I did pass two of the ones I have taken, English 60% Science 70% I took one of the hardest exams I have ever taken. Biology I spent three hour [sic] writing a whole lot of -----, begins with a “B.”

[“I would love to see you” is crossed out] I would love to see you trying to do some of the things which they do in the ice follies I doubt very much if you could learn them this year. But if you really try to think you might be able to learn some of them, one

I went to Hartford yesterday after noon Jan 19, and saw the doctor. He look [sic] at my knee for a few minutes then said “come back in ten days. You probably will be on crutches another five or six weeks.” I hope you don’t think it is funny because I think it awful or Hell. [end of page 2]

Gee it was fun in Hartford had a good meal of six hamburgs [sic] and a 5 cent coc [sic]. I had a cig-arette and boy was it [“good” is crossed out] swell. I saw a girl in a five and dime store which I could of sworn was you but one or two things were different.

In your letter you have “congrat-ulate your brother for me the next time you see home.” Which brother and what is there [“it has” is crossed out] he has done to be congratulated for. [“I well well” is crossed out].

[“The family talk [sic] to one of my brothers I” is crossed out] wrong person

Tanks [sic] for da [sic] address of Dolly’s it soon will come in handy – HaHaHa.

Say hello to Diane for me when you call her. Ask her if she would not like three pairs of Brine athletic socks and would you like some too. I might be able to get six pairs so I might give you both some.

By the looks out I would say we would have some snow by nightfall that would be swell.

I hope you don’t fail any of your exams I doubt if you will.

So long.

Mr. Henry Lawrence Smith

P.S. What dose [sic] or where is “Hawthorne?”?
[signed] Lawry Smith

I can’t believe you made a boy go home crying. Either he was plenty small or you were to [sic] close. I would of thought your little brother would of beaten you tell him I am ashamed.


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Friday, August 1, 2008

1944-01-06 - Janet Neville Postcard

We step forward into the year 1944 with a postcard from Lawry Smith of the Westminster School, Simsbury, Connecticut.

Could we be starting the new year with love?

No information could be found on Lawry Smith in Connecticut or Pennsylvania.

Dear Janet
Guess what; I got back to school safely but I started to go to study hall and I slipped and gave my kneee [sic] an awful hit and I am now hobling [sic] around on crutchs [sic] I wick remember little girl that the 1/25/44 I must have that scarpf [sic] or $1.00
Ask Dolly to write me course I to find something about a girl I am in l--- with
So Long
Lawry Smith


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

1943-12-16 - Janet Neville Letter

This letter, sent from Jane Diane Law, is unique due to a few characteristics. First, the letterhead is specific to a farm, Glen Echo Farm, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Second, Ms. Law signed her letter with her nickname, "Stinky." Finally, the letter references two invitations (the reason for this letter being one of them), a phone call, and a young man.

Janet Neville appears to have been living at 400 South Church Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Thanks to the magic of the Google Street View, we can see the house that stands there now.

We found a few references to a "Glen Echo Farm" in West Chester, but nothing regarding the Law family.


[start header]
Glen Echo Farm
West Chester
[end header]
Dec. 16, 1943
Dear janet
I accept with pleasure the invitation sent to me By you and for you.
[“Back” crossed out] But I cordially want to inform you that Miss Cissy Carson will be then visiting me so I wanted to know if [“st” crossed out] it would be alright if I brought her along to [sic].
Say please forgive the missspelled [sic] words, as you know I just graduated out of the 2nd grade.
Love, “Stinky”
Guess what I just got a phonecall [sic] from Delmore Farney. Thrill Thrill!!!!!!!!???! He said he would accept my invitation


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Friday, July 25, 2008

1943-10-29 - Janet Neville Letter

The first of several letters originating in foreign countries, this particular letter started in England. Specifically, Somerset. It was written by one Elisabeth Wilbraham of Standerwick Court, Frome, Somerset. While no specific information could be found on Elisabeth, the Wilbraham family appears to be present in England for many centuries.

Unknown at this time. Beyond the small number of references we found to the Wilbraham family, no other information could be derived from the letter.

With that in mind, we were able to determine a few things from the content of the letter itself.
  • Elisabeth appears to be an American in England.
  • Janet and Del could be dating.
  • Elisabeth likes to use postscripts.


Oct 29th 1943
Standerwick Court
Wychwood School
Banbury Rd
Dear Janet
Thank you very much for your letter it is the first one I have received from [“the” is crossed out] the U.S.A. We arrived a little over a week ago. I was quite sorry to leave Portugal as we were having such a wonderful time. We used to swim practically every-day, it was usually so hot that we had to stay in the hotel from about eleven to three in the afternoon. We spent two days in Ireland which wasn’t much. Then something very extraordinary happened which I will tell you about when I next see you which will be very very soon I hope. The food isn’t so bad really, but you can get practically no clothes. I am going to school in a few days, it’s an awful looking school and the girls look pretty bad too, but it is very close to John’s school, Ma and Pa can visit us both at once. I forgot to tell you Lisbon is an amazing looking place, it has palm trees up the middle of the streets, and you always see women going around with enormous things on
[page 2]
their heads, also you see hundreds of donkeys laden with junk, can you imagine seeing all this in New York or Washington. I can speak Portuguese now, I bet that is a language old Mrs Shumway can’t speak.
You must write and tell me all the latest news about Dolly and Billy, how are things going? Also about you and Del.
Please be sure to give me Ann Robb’s address also please give her my love, and tell her to hurry up and write.
I am having a thrilling time, sowing [sic] tapes [“tags” is crossed out] on all my things before I go to school.
I am quite sure this letter makes no sense as I am not concentrating at all, which is very unusual for me, as you know.
Please give my best to all at school, and also to the green team. Much much much
Ask Robb if she knows Mrs Miller as Mrs Miller know [sic] her. Thank you.
PP. S.
Please send me your picture. Thank you.
[written 90 degrees up the side]
Give my love to your “Wannie” and Ma and Pa.
Next time write me a longer letter.


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1943-10-16 - Janet Neville Program

The mini-epic of Miss Janet Neville's life continues. Here we see a program from a school play. Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw to be precise. The play, in honor of the "New Girls," was performed on October 16th, 1943. It was a Saturday evening. Janet played a Court Page. Also of note was the play was performed at the Shipley School. A name we will see in the future.

Saint Joan was written by George Bernard Shaw in 1923. You can see a trailer for the National Theatre's version here, a version we are quite sure differs from the version Ms. Neville was in.

We researched each member of the cast and crew and could find only one reference to a scholarship in the name of Catherine Bohlen, the Director of the play.


- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

Monday, July 21, 2008

1943-09-23 - Janet Neville Letter

Apologies for not being as active as normal. It appears a time dilation device was left on by a researcher in G Department without our knowledge. You would think being able to speed up or slow down the space-time continuum would have given them ample time to distribute the memo, but alas we just received it late last week. We appreciate your patience while we endure our red tape. - UFO Team Captain

Janet Neville will be the focus of our attention for pretty much the rest of the summer. A UFO Team member stumbled upon a large collection of letters and used his per diem money to purchase them. While the accounting department was not happy, the rest of the UFO Team was ecstatic.

To start our Janet Neville adventure, we have this letter from Delmer S. Fahney [spelling may not be correct]. "Del" writes from the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

The UFO Team is still early in the research stage of Miss Janet Neville, but we hope to learn more about her as we proceed. If you know Ms. Neville or can provide us more information about the topics discussed, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dear Janet,
I arrived here at hill [sic] yesterday and all is
well so far. How are you doing at your school? I will still say that I should
have given you a flower, the last time I saw you. I’m really sorry I didn’t. Jan
how is my favorite piece In the Blue of Evening? Va[unreadable]t “and” I almost
forgot to mention how are your pet chickens. Give my regards to your family + do
[begin reverse of page]
and tell me how you are doing. Will see
you soon
Always Del


- The Hill School Web Site, Retrieved on July 20th, 2008 from
- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.