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A little window on the past

My wife indulged her philately habit and purchased a big box of old stamps at a garage sale some months back. Along with the stamps in the old cardboard box was a pile of letters that the previous collector had received over the years. Usually they were in the context of stamp collecting – foreign pen pals exchanging stamps – but other letters were more personal. They also give a fascinating snapshot into life in a different time.

This is one such letter. Written in beautiful longhand, from a Japanese correspondent prior to World War II. I’ve transcribed it here complete w/ original spellings and typos.


Osaka, 11/20 1939
Dear Friend,

Thank you very much stamps the letter you send us very often. We are glad to hear from you, friends of other lands, and especialy to have the opportunity of thinking together of out international friendship. We are made to think of how can form better relations with people of other nation. It reminds us of the verse which Jesus taught us. “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” Is it not true that inasmuch as branches into the one Vine and became one in love and purpose? Let us discard our doubts and predudices and try to learn good things of other nations that we may come up nearer to this ideal. And let us continue in our common hope and aim in preparation for the day when we must take greater responsibility in the builing up of a better world.
Hoping that you are always enjoying good health. Your sincerely will send me the cinema magazine, the new’s magazine the new’s papers and new [indistinct] American Picture Cards and I wish you a Happy Christmas and Happy returns of them. I am your loving nephew. I am dear friend. Always at your command
with kind regards

My address
Mr. Teisuke Ishida
c/o Kurihara & co
Hichame Kitakyutaramachi
Higoshiku Osaka Japan

I have so many questions about this. How did Mr. Horford of Cedar Rapids, IA, have a Japanese nephew? What’s the background that this nephew happened to be (apparently) a Christian when that was very rare in Japan? What happened to Mr. Ishida and this friendship when the US and Japan went to war just two years later?

For now I’ll just have to be content with the letter.

One Comment

  1. Phil Christensen Phil Christensen

    What a treasure. Thanks, Chris.

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