I am so unbelievably excited to officially begin my new project I lovingly refer to as “We’ve Got Mail.” Honestly it just makes so much sense that I would stumble upon this treasure of an idea. Between being a wedding photographer that adores learning the stories leading up to the wedding day, creating beautiful imagery to be cherished always to my consuming love for Savannah I can’t think of any better culmination of my interests. As I wrote in a previous blog, this began one day when I made the choice to go downtown and really live for the day rather than sit on the couch in front of my TV. I wandered into an antique store and came across a few letters between an engaged couple from the 1930’s. I loved the handwriting, the language and that they also experienced the ups and downs just as we do so many years later. I was completely intrigued! I dug around a little more and before I knew it I found over 300 letters between this couple and their families. I did some searching online and actually found the couple’s daughter. I contacted her and reunited her with these precious keepsakes. She teared up as she saw the familiar handwriting of her parents and grandparents. I was able to hear what happened after those letters were written. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life! She has so sweetly asked that I keep her parent’s letters from publicity and I am happy to do that. However- I knew that I wanted to continue my search for letters and hopefully reunite them with their families.
Last week I wandered into another antique store with my good friend Kyle and we came across letters addressed to Miss Lily Floride Green. It was better than Christmas! We sat outside at Vinnie Van Go Go’s and got to know Lily and Robert Lee Cooper a little better. I did some google research and discovered that The Georgia Historical Society possesses some of these letters and they provided some information:
“Robert Lee Cooper was born ca. 1875 and married Elizabeth (Lily) Floride Green (born ca. 1874) of Dalton, Georgia, on 6 December 1899. Cooper, who may have been a relative of the founders of Cooperville (Screven Co., Georgia), was a claims clerk with the Central of Georgia Railway and Green was the granddaughter of Duff Green (1791-1875), a journalist, and politician, and the daughter of Col. Benjamin Green (1822-1907), a businessman and diplomat.
This collection contains letters written by Robert Lee Cooper primarily to Elizabeth (Lily) Floride Green dated 1898 and 1899, just before the couple was married. The letters primarily document their courtship and serve as a window into the manners and attitudes of white Georgians at the turn of the century. The letters also depict Cooper’s work as a railroad claims clerk in Savannah, Georgia, and include his expressions of frustration with the job and incessant complaints of overwork. Cooper also cautions his future wife against overexerting herself by sewing or handwriting letters. Cooper’s letters additionally provide interesting detail regarding President McKinley’s December 1898 visit to Savannah; colloquial expressions; local food ways; white response to racial tension in Darien, GA; local amusements, including Masonic and church social life as well as theater; and a July 4th visit to Tybee Island.
The letters are primarily sent from Savannah to Dalton, Georgia. Other correspondents include Carrie W. Green and Mrs. Ben E. Green. Two letters dated 1941, sent from San Francisco and Ft. McKinley, Manila, are addressed to “Mother and Father” from “devotedly brother” and discusses military life.”
I can’t wait to do further research to learn more about this couple! But for now I present to you Lily & Rob….
October 5, 1899
My Dearest One,
I dislike to bring up the old story about “haste” again today, but it seems that I will have to do it. I was hoping that I would have a chance to write a long letter today. I was “sidetracked” on my work this morning, on account of having to take up some outside work- all of us in the office were put onto the same thing. Now it is only a half hour till quitting time and I have considerable yet to do. Had to go up town for dinner today and that knocked me out of my usual time for writing to my sweetheart. I saw H. Jenkins and he wanted to know right away when you were coming down. He said that if I didn’t bring you down real soon that I was surely “dead slow,” because you are one of the finest girls he knows. How was that? He talked so nice about it that I almost made a “clean breast” of it, and told him of the date. I also called on my tailor to see about my shopping. You have been shopping so much that it is time for me to “hustle” around a little.
Your sweet letter was received this afternoon- a few hours late, you see. Don’t know why it was delayed. I am going to the Lodge tonight to a musical arrangement they are going to have. The new pipe organ is finished and they are going to show it off.
If I have time after I get home, I will write you some more, but must cease now dearest, as my time is up- this has been written in about four minutes.
So now I encourage you: go out and buy some stationery. Write letters to those you love. Print your images. In one hundred years technology will be completely different and you won’t be able to hold text messages, digital files in the same way that these letters have withstood the test of time. Post photos of your prints and letters with the hashtag #wevegotmail to join in on the fun!