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.

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