By MATT CRANE
Over 88 years ago, an Army captain in the Panama Canal penned his first letter to the woman he was going to marry.
For Ellen Randolph Weatherly, truth is not necessarily stranger, but certainly, more romantic than fiction.
The correspondence between Capt. George N. Randolph and Ruth Morrison during 1924 has been strung together in a delightful, refreshing real-life love story by Weatherly, the daughter of Randolph and Morrison.
“The Captain and his Lady” tells the true story of Weatherly’s parents over the course of one year, framed by the letters they wrote which were compiled exactly as they were written.
Weatherly says the language and love her parents shared through their correspondence is a rare connection and art form not found today.
“You just don’t see anything like it anymore,” Weatherly said. “People tweet now, they don’t write.”
When her parents passed away in 1959, Weatherly said she and her husband, Charles, inherited her parents’ house where she discovered the letters.
“I wanted to keep them and preserve them so we could have this history,” she said. “My first year of retirement was spent putting these letters on the computer.”
Weatherly said the letters contain commentaries involving historical events, political elections, pioneer history, humorous happenings and life during the period of 1924.
Weatherly said the core of her parents’ love story lies in the beauty of the language they used.
“Being a military man, he began expressing himself in a definite, precise manner,” Weatherly writes. “She immediately replied to his letter in her own softer, more descriptive manner. Thus began their love story.”
Weatherly said she remembered a story her mother told her later in life about the first time her mother saw her father.
“She wrote to her mother saying, ‘I cannot make promises, but I’ve met the most unusual man in my life,’” Weatherly said. “She just knew immediately. Oh, they were so in love.”
Getting the book published, however, was no easy feat, Weatherly said.
“I was convinced from the first moment I read these letters that it was a fantastic story that anyone would enjoy,” she said. “But I was afraid because I kept thinking to myself, ‘Do I feel this way because I’m so close to it?’”
After being turned by publishers, Weatherly found an outlet and collaborator in iUniverse, a self-publishing firm online.
“I cannot even tell you the feeling when I found out they were going to publish it,” she said. “They did an excellent job, and they were there constantly for me.”
Weatherly said she feels fortunate to have this kind of insight into her parents’ past and romance.
“How in Heaven’s name did I get lucky enough to get into this family,” she said. “They were such wonderful, wonderful parents.”
“The Captain and his Lady is available online at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, with a public book signing currently in the works for Starkville happening soon.
For a taste of the love story “The Captain and his Lady” tells, here is an excerpt from Capt. Randolph’s first letter:
April 1, 1924
My first letter — I essay it with misgivings, for I was ever a poor hand at writing, and yet naturally I feel as tho’ it should be a literary masterpiece. You should inspire one, dear girl.
The first thought that came to me was of last weekend. I was so happy every minute. Even the old maid with her “soul expression” and the warped, distorted ego which characterizes those who live alone did not disturb my contentment — much.
It is a wonderful thing to feel yourself beloved by such a girl as you, dearheart. If out of all my longings and desires I had been allowed to fashion my own mate and mold her to my heart’s desire, she would be a living replica of you. In character, ideals, beauty — in everything which goes to make up a woman, you are my ideal. Shouldn’t a man be happy who can truthfully say that about his intended wife?
Ruth, I love you with my whole heart and soul. Nothing shall ever be done by me to offend you knowingly. It is glorious to feel that you can love and show that love without fear of its cloying. As far as I am concerned, our marriage is as good as consummated, and if you feel as sure, we can enter unreservedly into that exquisitely happy period of planning and dreaming for the future…
Your adoring lover,