Monday, September 19, 2011

Dear Doris... part one some of my viewers might remember a few posts back when I found some really cool vintage postcards at my local store (August, "The Reinhewitz Tower"). One in particular caught my attention, because it was written to a young woman, from a man touring through war-torn Europe in 1950. The woman's name was "Doris", and the young man's name was "Leif"......

....or so I thought.....

Last week as I flipped through hundreds and hundreds of postcards, I suddenly saw a snippet of familiar handwriting....and a familiar name....

Could it really be? Out of thousands and thousands of postcards, was this really another postcard written from Leif to his beloved Kappa Alpha Theta-ite?

"Dear Doris,
           The ship in the foreground is the one we came up from Palma on (filled with seasick Spanish soldiers & boot sailors). Barcelona turned out to be not such a good idea for New Years Eve. Drinks cost $3.60 a piece & I guess you know I just about left this dear olde worlde when they preseuto-ed me with a bill for about $25.
                          Once Wealthy Roberto"

My heart started racing, and as I looked at the address, it was the same as the one I had bought back in July. The handwriting was the same, the address was the same, even the quirky charisma was the same. There was only one difference....

This card wasn't from Leif.

It was from Once Lucky Roberto.

I tried to understand how all these pieces matched up, but not the name. A little later from the same shoebox of postcards, came another card addressed to Doris Geenan...Only this time, it was sign "Ali"!

"Still Salaam Doris-
               This town is actually far more colorful than any post card can do justice- it is 250 kilometers south of Algiers on the edge of the Sahara- but cold.
               Played typical tourist today & went camel riding in the sand dunes- tres-gai.

I sat at this antique store the rest of the afternoon, sifting through boxes of cards, and in total, I found 14 postcards addressed to "Miss Doris Geenan" of Madison, Wisconsin.

Each one, carefully marked to Doris.....and then suddenly, the identity of the man who wrote them became a little clearer.....
...when this man was in Sweden, he signed them "Leif"
...when he was in Algiers, he signed them "Ali"
...when he was in France, he signed them "Lucky Pierre"
...when he was in Vienna, he signed them "Ivanovitch"

So the "Leif" who I had wished a happy life only a few posts earlier on my blog wasn't really a "Leif", and I have no clue who he was. Somehow this group of postcards survived...together...and ended up in a giant collection in the middle of Washington state...Each card is unique in the picture it paints of a time long ago...

...So join me, as I post each card on my blog, and follow Leif/Ali/Once Wealthy Roberto on his journey across Europe. I've put them in order as best as I could, based on the dates on their postmarks. From what I can tell, this young man was in the army, working on reconstructing Europe after WWII. He arrived in France right after the new year in 1950, and corresponds with Doris until May....What does he write? You'll have to wait and see!

We may not know who this mystery man was, but we know that he had two words on his mind as he traveled so far from home:

"Dear Doris..."


  1. I like it! This is cool. What a neat and lucky find. I shall be tuning in for the next installment.

  2. This is awesome! I can't believe someone would get rid of these, but luckily, you found them! I also can't understand why some people just don't like history. I can't wait to read more. BTW, I did a little research (I'm into genealogy) and found a HS yearbook picture of Doris!

  3. This is too funny! I admire your patience and persistence to find out more about these former souls. Can't wait to see more!

  4. amazing. i am speachless and so jealous, and i may end up writing a mystery story about this man!

  5. How exciting!!! I'll tune in for more!

  6. Really cool find. Thank you for sharing I really enjoyed reading the post!

  7. Wow! History at its finest ... as seen through the writings of a "real" person ... who was a witty, romantic adventurer unwittingly providing a mystery to solve and a good story for those of us who came later, thanks to your thoughtfully appreciative detective work. Very cool. :-)

  8. Love it! You should turn it into a book!