Friday, February 14, 2014

A 110-year-old Love Letter

Happy Valentine's Day!  The photo above is of my great grandparents, Juvar and Tatevous Paloutzian, Juvar's sister Aghavni (Dovie) Tatoian and Juvar's parents, Altoon and Giragos Tatoian.  The photo was taken c. 1905.  Juvar and Tatevous were married 30 Nov 1905, in Fresno, CA; this photo likely commemorates that event.  Juvar would have been 20, Tatevous 23, Dovie 10, Altoon 37 and Giragos 42.
Tatevous was born in Parchanj, Turkey in 1882 and came to the U.S. in 1901, when he was 18.  Juvar was also born in Parchanj, in 1884, and had come to the U.S. in 1903, just two years prior to this photo.

This is a letter that Tatevous wrote to Juvar during their courtship.  The date on the letter is May 30, 1904.  My cousin Mary Shamshoian, whose grandmother was Juvar's sister Agnes, had this letter, and I was able to scan it when we visited.  I am so thankful to her for sharing!
My friend Houri Vartanian and her mother were very kind to translate it for me.  Here is their translation:

To Miss Juvar Tatoian

My kind lovely adorable. It is night. Everybody is asleep at this moment. But me, after a hard workday, I came to write you a heartfelt letter. Once again I want to share with you my wish and dream. 

My adorable, first let me tell you about our short visit on Sunday.  Even our smallest desire went unfulfilled. My days fly by like months.  All day, even in my daily duties, you are on my mind. My whole mind is possessed by your love. I know not if I am the like in your head. 

I work so hard but I never feel tired because I have you my exceptional adorable.  Always having you in my heart I find the cure for my ailments. 

And again my wish and desire is this. For you to continue to learn because the story is in your hands. If it isn't boring, please try to learn. Endure and do so continuously. Because this is critical and important for you as it is for me.  If you love me sincerely, continue. 

Likewise you should know that my pain and your pain are both my pain. There is no difference between us. And again I beg you that every week you learn at least "forty" words. As you learn so do I.  Maybe next Sunday when I visit I will find that you have learned this much. As I have nothing else of importance to write, I grant my sincere and loving greetings to you, your father and your mother. Also, with my sincere and loving greetings, I kiss their hands. And I send my greetings to Aghavni whom I miss.  

And with a kiss to you, I finish this letter... Chained to your heart, I remain your friend. 

T. H. Paloutzian

Although your name is familiar to many, your love is a slingshot to my heart. I am the only one close to your heart. You cause the wounds of my heart to dissolve. 

This is our address
T Paloutzian
Route 6
Fresno CA

I think he must have been talking about learning English.  My father has told me that my great grandfather read newspapers in English and Armenian daily, but that his grandmother did not speak English very well, if much at all.  The 1920 census says she does not read and write (in English), but the 1930 census says she does.  I hope she read Armenian so that she could read this for herself!

Thanks so much Mary, Houri and Mrs. Vartanian!  I am so grateful!!  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
I thought I should tell you the rest of the story. Here are Juvar and Tatevous and Dorothy and Ed's 25th wedding anniversary, in 1962. They had 5 boys; Ed, Ernie, Frank, Roy and Vern. And 12 grandchildren. And 21 great-grandchildren. And 25 great-great grandchildren. In this picture she is 77 and he is 79. They were married just shy of 60 years when grandma died, 28 Oct 1965. Grandpa lived to be 95 years old; he died 13 Feb 1978.  

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