The Mysterious Letter of 1927

History of the letter

(written by Alan Eschleman with contributions from Heather Corbett, 1995)

The mysterious letter was delivered to 2213 Vine Street in June 1994. The letter arrived in a zippered, canvas damaged mail pouch. It was delivered by our regular carrier. I contacted the Alameda County agencies that maintain old city registry files. These registries were published annually until after World War II. They contain, among other things, alphabetical lists of the residents.

The city registries for Berkeley 1926-28 do not mention any Greysons, but the accuracy of the registry is questionable. I looked up my father's family in the same registries and found that the name had been misspelled. There are two Greysons listed in the current Alameda County telephone book. Neither of these families could help me. One Greyson told me that his family had adopted the name during the 1950's for unspecified reasons.

I asked the Berkeley Postmaster if it was policy to deliver a letter that had obviously had its stamp removed. Couldn't somebody just take any old letter they might find in a trunk and drop it in a mailbox and have it delivered? "Yes" was the answer.

So the letter remains a mystery.

Front of envelope

The return address, stamp, and postmark have been cut out. The only markings are a date, the address and a faded purpleish stamp of the numeral "4" within a square. The envelope is 16.5cm by 9.2cm.

Written in black ball-point


Written in black fountain pen

Mrs. L. C. Greyson
    2213 Vine St
       Berkeley                4

Back of envelope

Unfilled lines for "SENDERS NAME" and "ADDRESS"

The letterhead

Seal reads: CHILE - PERU - BOLIVIA - NEW YORK - PANAMA with GRACE flag in center

Letterhead reads: ON BOARD GRACE LINE S.S.

The pages are 24.4cm by 15.6cm.

Page one side one

Written in black fountain pen

                 Dec 19-27

Dear Mother Greyson:
       As we expect to make
port tomorrow will drop off
a few lines will write a
regular letter when we arrive
as it has been a very eventful
trip and we sure have a
lot to write about
       Ray has just finished
repacking his and mine trunks
and is resting.
       We all ought to weigh
a ton if food counts as we certainly
have had wonderful eats and
Dick has a standing order
for ice cream each meal
       We took on a bunch

Page one side two

of foreigners today and they are jabbering so that I am simply dizzy Dick is having the time of his young life and the instigator of many a game We have had some very interesting trips when we were in port all of which we will write about later The best part of this trip is the lovely people you make friends with and have to lose and talk about lazy we all are simply ruined right now. We have seen and done so much since we left Berkeley I feel like it simply is not me at all Shall be very anxious to hear from you and I hope

Page two side one

Seal and letterhead as before

by the time that this reaches
you that Ivy and her mother
have returned
     This darn boat is rocking
so I will have to stop
        You will hear from
us soon- be good and hold
the fort - hope Aunt Sade
will soon be with you.
       Lots of love from us all

Written in thick, heavy pencil

Tuesday 20th
 Arrived new Hotel Bolivar Lima,
Up to Graya [?] Thursday. Then we
will write. All lovely so far.
                    May [?]

Page two side two

No marks appear on this page

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