Missing Letters
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Jessica Monfordini thought she was just buying a gift for her nephew at the Cross Keys Auction Center, but little did she know she would be giving someone in Texas an even bigger gift. Monfordini bought her nephew some comic books, but found something odd inside the box she'd purchased. "I start lifting the books and I saw really old envelopes in a plastic baggie. That's when I took them out. I was in shock." There were postcards and pictures from Altoona that were more than a hundred years old, but what struck her most was a collection of letters written to a husband and father who was away during World War II. The letters began with, "My love" or "Our Darling Daddie." "Just how much they missed him and loved him basically are what most of the letters were about" These were sentiments Monfordini knew firsthand. "I'm a military wife as well, so I wrote a lot of letters. My husband's been deployed four times. I understand the importance of these letters." She wanted to find the letters a home and shared her discovery on Facebook. The post quickly received about 700 shares. It took a team of people, but she said the search led to Ralph Finnegan more than 1,600 miles away in Odessa, Texas. The letters were written to his wife, Nancy's, father. "I called Ralph the very next day, and within a week, I had the letters out to him." She said she was hesitant to let go of the letters, and she'd become protective of them. She wanted them to end up in the hands of someone who cared. She said Ralph was in tears when he received them. Monfordini said she later learned that the Finnegans home burnt down years ago, and the couple had lost all of their sentimental letters and photographs. "He lost his wife ten years ago this month, and it was kind of perfect timing for him to get them. He told me it means the world to him." The Cross Keys Auction Center owner Col. K.R. Miller Jr., said sentimental or historic items come through his doors all the time, but it's rare that people care the way Monfordini did. "There ought to be more of that. I'm glad she found the letters, and there should be a lot more being done. We have to keep our heritage going. Otherwise we're going to lose it here in a generation or so,I want them to move it on and go with it because it is valuable."