Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought today would be perfect for delving into some of the “schmoopier” materials in our collection, which brought to mind our Avis Tarrant Burke papers. Avis, active within the IU Extension Division, was the wife of Fine Arts professor Robert E. Burke. Her papers reflect her life of travel and philanthropic endeavors through travel diaries, correspondence, and awards, but also included are papers passed on to Avis by her mother and namesake, Avis Booth.
This letter, written in 1858 by Cuban immigrant Andres Moynelo, is just one of 19 letters written to both Avis and her mother from August through December. All of them carry the same message – when will you love me, Avis? We do not have any of the letters Avis wrote to him, but his responses indicate that the 14 year old was just. not. interested. The last Moynelo letter in our collection, dated December 4, may very well have been his final correspondence with Avis, as the tone carries with it a touch of resignation.
Nevertheless, this letter, written early in his courtship of Avis, couldn’t be more appropriate for this day of love. Enjoy!
Stratford Aug 30th 1858
Avis beautiful and loved,
I am thinking that if you should not see me for one month, you would forget me, but my heart tells me that you shall be faithfull till the last moment of death.
I have sworn to be yours in preference to any other woman and if it is not so I shall be unfortunate all my life.
You are the girl that has inspired to me the most ardent love in the world and consequently you must be the girl that I shall love all my life.
I do not know wether [sic] you will love me or not. I do not know but that you have not told me that you love me, to see if I am constant, the time shall tell you that to you, if you love me you shall see me occupied in you, if you do no love me you will see me succumb to the tomb.
I remain sobbing and thinking that I have but a few days longer to see you, but that is for a short time only, because if you are going to another place I shall go there for the pleasure of contemplating your beautifull [sic] form, which makes me suffer in such a manner.
Handsome Avis, I want you to tell me where you are going in November, the place, the street, and the number of the house for I want in December or in January to have the pleasure to see you.
I suplicate to you, that you tell me what directions I must have in the letters which I send to you.
I suplicate to you this, for to know of your health, and to show you that I will never forget you.
You will please excuse the faults what this contains.
Yours in hope,