World War II Love Letters Wash Up on NJ Beach After Sandy

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012  |  Updated 5:45 PM EDT
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More stories are surfacing about lost treasures turning up, mementos that got washed away when Sandy came through. In New Jersey, dozens of love letters dating back to World War II turned up on Sandy Hook Bay. Thanks to the 14-year-old boy who found them, they'll soon be back with the family they belong to. Brian Thompson reports from the Atlantic Highlands.

NBC 4 New York

More stories are surfacing about lost treasures turning up, mementos that got washed away when Sandy came through. In New Jersey, dozens of love letters dating back to World War II turned up on Sandy Hook Bay. Thanks to the 14-year-old boy who found them, they'll soon be back with the family they belong to. Brian Thompson reports from the Atlantic Highlands.

There were 57 of them: love letters from a young woman in New Jersey to her boyfriend in Vermont, found tied with a ribbon inside a box on the shore of Sandy Hook Bay after the storm.

The letters, written during and after World War II, were found two weeks ago by Katheleen Chaney's 14-year-old son Patrick. He spied them while they were walking along a beach trail in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., the day after Sandy barreled through. 

"I wanted to return them to whoever they belonged to," said Katheleen Chaney. "They're beautiful. She obviously adored him."

The letters were from Dorothy Fallon to Lynn Farnham, and were written from 1942 to 1948, right up to the week before they got married.

It's not clear why Farnham was in Vermont, but the letters were full of the everyday and endearment.

"Well Darling, two weeks from today and we will be married," read one passage in a letter from 1948.

In another: "I don't feel like sleeping so I thought I'd write you a few lines."

After Chaney's son dried the old letters one by one in front of the fireplace in their powerless home, she started playing amateur detective.

She visited the return address in Rumson, N.J., but the original house had been torn down.

She posted an ad on Craigslist but there was no response.

Finally, she went to findagrave.com and there, she found a posting for Lynn Farnham. According to the site, Farnham died in 1991.

Chaney left a posting and on Tuesday, a niece of the couple contacted her from Virginia.

"We were both crying," Chaney said.

Chaney learned that Dorothy Fallon Farnham, 91, now lives in a senior high-rise in Asbury Park, N.J. in frail health. The box of letters seems to have floated down the Shrewsbury River and into Sandy Hook Bay from the Rumson area.

It's not at all clear where they had been stored or who had them, as there are no known relatives living in the area, according to Dorothy's niece.

Chaney promised to mail the letters right away. She said she was offered money but refused it.

After reading the letters, she said, "I feel like Dorothy is my aunt as well." 

And every letter ended with some variation of these words: "I love you dear and miss you very much. All my love always, Dottie."

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