by Judith C Lovell

 

About ten years ago, I inherited a bundle of love letters and diary notes written by my maternal grandfather, David Clarence Hurd. He composed these writings while living in Brooklyn, New York. “Papa,” as my grandfather was lovingly called, was originally born in Brown’s Town, St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies on April 13, 1885. Beginning in October of 1913, Papa wrote to my grandmother, Avril Louise Cato, who lived in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Initially pen-pals, they wrote to each other for nearly a year. The pen-pal phenomenon was quite popular back then. Customarily, through letter writing a pen-pal connected with another to learn about his country, customs, and lifestyle. Some pen-pal relationships, like that of my grandparents, blossomed into blissful romance. Papa got to know his future bride through letter writing. After forming a loving bond built on trust and faith, Papa poured out his heart to Grandma. He sent many impassioned love letters. He proposed marriage in a letter. She accepted the proposal in a letter. They physically met each other for the first time on Tuesday, August 25, 1914 in Port Antonio, the day before their wedding ceremony.