One woman’s quest to reunite a 60 year old postcard with its writer

(CNN) — It was 2003, and Leora Krygier was rummaging close to a thrift retail store in the vicinity of her residence in Los Angeles.

Krygier was not wanting for anything in specific, but a box of aged classic postcards caught her notice.

“I have usually been intrigued in classic and postcards. No one sends postcards anymore, genuinely. There is certainly sort of a attractive very little vintage remnant of the environment,” Krygier tells CNN Journey.

She used the best part of an hour flicking as a result of the box, finding up light dispatches from places throughout the globe and looking at the scrawled messages to relatives, close friends, liked ones.

A single postcard stood out amongst the other folks.

“I arrived across this particular just one, which appeared diverse from any of the other postcards that I might ever witnessed there,” Krygier recollects. “It wasn’t shiny, it was not rather. It seemed like it was mailed in 1942. And it seemed like it was some variety of thank you card, from a soldier.”

On the entrance of the faded, sepia dispatch was a sketch of a soldier using tobacco a cigarette, with the caption: “We’re all lit up — permit battle start.”

The message on the back was quick and sweet.

“Lots of thanks,” it examine. “I’ll before long be out of below now, then I shall be lit up! God Bless The usa and F.D.R.”

The mail was resolved to a W.H Caldwell Esq, resident of Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn. It was signed by a Private A.T Maynard, a British soldier.

There was a put up stamp from Tottenham, London.

Krygier established the box of postcards down. She understood this was the 1 she preferred to obtain. She acquired it for all over 50 cents.

Leora Krygier purchased this postcard in 2003 in a Los Angeles thift store.

Courtesy Leora Krygier

Back again at property, Krygier examined the postcard nearer.

She figured Maynard was thanking Caldwell — for sending him some cigarettes, possibly? But actually, the concept prompted as quite a few issues as it answered.

An individual who was a young person in the early 1940s would most likely be in their late 70s or early 80s in 2003, Krygier understood. There was a probability that Maynard was nevertheless alive.

“I wonder if I could uncover this person who wrote it,” Krygier remembers contemplating.

It wouldn’t be a overall stab in the dark — she experienced his past title and his initials to go on, and his serial selection was printed underneath his signature.

And there had been the particulars of the addressee, which could be an additional lead.

Even now, in the early noughties, tracking people down on the net wasn’t that uncomplicated. Krygier could not do a Twitter get in touch with-out, and ancestry and spouse and children record internet websites have been nevertheless in their infancy.

She figured her initial port of get in touch with really should be the British Military. She wrote a letter with the aspects and asked for a lot more details. But she claims British Army officers had been hesitant to assistance at initially.

“They kept telling me it is really confidential, it can be confidential, we can not give you any info about him,” she remembers.

Krygier wrote again and asked if they could at the very least permit her know Maynard’s initially title.

Following far more again and forth, the British Army instructed her that, according to their records, Personal Maynard’s complete name was Arthur Thomas Maynard.

This crucial detail verified, Krygier’s following action was to consult with recent Uk census information.


Krygier is fascinated by outdated postcards and this just one stood out for her.

Leah Abucayan/CNN

“I basically wrote out, I don’t know, perhaps 50, 60 letters to random folks who experienced the exact identify,” Krygier claims. “I advised them my only objective was to return the postcard, not to make any income out of it or anything like that.”

For Krygier, this quest was an intriguing historical undertaking for her to get the job done on in her spare time, she had a fast paced day job as a judge and law firm.

And when she truly hoped she’d thrive with her mission and find Arthur Maynard, sending letters out blindly still felt like a very long shot.

In her exploration, Krygier also learned that there was a marketing campaign to deliver cigarettes to Allied forces by using the In excess of-Seas Tobacco Fund. She figured Caldwell had donated to that marketing campaign, and which is why Arthur Maynard was writing to thank him.

Krygier investigated Caldwell and uncovered he had British roots. As far as she could surmise, he had no direct descendents. It did not seem to be like that Caldwell and Maynard would have identified 1 yet another personally.

About the months that followed, Krygier bought a number of responses from people today who believed Maynard might have be their father. It turned out there were being a truthful couple Arthur Maynards who’d fought for Britain back in the war each individual a person turned out to be a wrong direct.


Krygier embarked on a quest to monitor down the letter author.

Courtesy Leora Krygier

But 1 day, pretty much a yr into her quest, Krygier acquired an electronic mail from Michael and Valerie Boxall, citizens of the rural village of Stibbard in Norfolk, England.

The Boxalls was writing on behalf of their neighbor, Tom Maynard, and his sister Winnie Maynard Davis. The two siblings, now in their 80s, had a brother identified as Arthur Maynard who’d been in the exact device as the letter writer, but who’d since handed away.

Michael Boxall described he was producing on behalf of the Maynard siblings mainly because neither of them owned a pc, but he did.

He asked if Krygier could ship a photocopy of the postcard, so they could attempt and match the handwriting.

She obliged, and in return the Maynard siblings despatched more than, by way of Michael Boxall, an instance of their brother’s penmanship.

When Krygier opened the e-mail, she gasped.

“I did not even have to have a handwriting qualified, to see that it was a match. It was like a best match. Even a lay particular person could see that. The handwriting was perfect,” she suggests.

All the dead finishes and unanswered letters experienced been worthy of it. She’d identified Arthur Maynard at previous.

An notion commenced to kind. What if, instead than just sending the postcard back again across the Atlantic, she shipped it in particular person?

A transatlantic reunion

Leora-photo (1)

Leora Krygier with Winnie Maynard Davis and Tom Maynard in Stibbard in the United kingdom.

Courtesy Leora Krygier

In late summer season 2004, Krygier packed her luggage and boarded a flight to London with her teenage daughter in tow.

Her aim, she suggests was “closing an arc.” Her family members assumed she was “a minor nuts,” she recalls, but they understood how much the study meant to her.

Following arriving in London, Krygier and her daughter took a prepare northeast of London to the metropolis of Norwich, England and then traveled on to the village of Stibbard.

“My daughter was 16 and it was our initially mom-daughter girls’ excursion collectively,” recalls Krygier. “We spent a week in London much too where by I had rented an condominium and in which we experimented with extremely tricky not to be common holidaymakers.”

Unquestionably, assembly Tom Maynard and Winnie Maynard Davis was considerably from a regular tourist exercise.

The come across was an practical experience Krygier states she’ll under no circumstances forget about.

“They genuinely handled me like lengthy lost spouse and children, and it was so special,” she says.

She also enjoyed conference the Boxalls, and other inhabitants of Stibbard who’d listened to about her quest.

Leora-photo (3)

Leora Krygier took this photograph of Winnie Maynard-Davis and Tom Maynard through her visit to Stibbard.

Courtesy Leora Krygier

And sitting down in Tom Maynard’s kitchen above a cup of tea, Krygier presented the siblings with the pretty much 60-yr-outdated postcard.

In switch, they crammed in the gaps about Personal Arthur Maynard’s everyday living.

“I had hoped that I would have discovered him alive, definitely,” states Krygier. “And it turned out that this soldier, he experienced a really unfortunate life. He had by no means married, by no means experienced young children. But he loved classics. He beloved to paint.”

Hanging on Tom Maynard’s partitions have been some of his brother’s delicate watercolors.

The team talked about Arthur Maynard for several hours, showing Krygier his artwork together with letters and artifacts from his lifetime.

“It was as if this conversation had brought their brother back again to daily life again,” says Krygier.

Ahead of she still left, Tom Maynard gave Krygier a couple of of his brother’s watercolors to choose dwelling.

She was touched and recognized graciously.

“It was a the moment in a life span kind of practical experience,” she suggests.

Missing in time

For some time afterwards, Krygier kept in touch with the Maynard siblings and the Boxalls.

She enjoyed a further stop by to Stibbard a handful of a long time later on with her spouse and daughter, and also fulfilled up with the Maynard siblings at Winnie’s daughter’s home on a later on vacation to the United kingdom.

Tom Maynard and Winnie Maynard Davis have considering that passed absent, but Krygier stays in contact with the Boxalls by means of the occasional email and once-a-year Xmas playing cards.

Next the Maynard siblings’ deaths, Krygier is just not guaranteed what happened to the postcard. While Krygier satisfied Winnie Maynard Davis’ children, she’s not in contact with them any longer.

“Did somebody in the loved ones, get it, keep it, throw it absent?” she wonders. “It can be just a genuinely compact postcard. It could conveniently have disappeared from the face of the Earth.”

But Krygier won’t mind if the postcard’s been missing in the ether.

“That is the way items are often,” she suggests.

Following all, now Maynard’s legacy extends across the Atlantic to Los Angeles, where by some of his watercolor paintings hang on the partitions of Leora Krygier’s household.

And acquiring the postcard also prompted Krygier to embark on her have loved ones historical past quest.

“When I very first visited Tom we had numerous excellent conversations about everyday living and household,” she says. “He requested me if I had researched my personal loved ones tree and it instantly happened to me that I hadn’t. I understood then that possibly this calendar year-prolonged research into a random stranger’s story was my circuitous route in the direction of study into my individual family heritage and the threads that wove into my personal everyday living.”

Krygier’s father was a Planet War II Holocaust survivor who remaining Europe in the 1940s. He met Krygier’s mom at the opera in Israel. Krygier was born in Israel and the relatives emigrated to the United States when she was younger.

“I recognized that much of his persona and habits as partner and father was sure up in his heritage as a Holocaust survivor, some thing I didn’t really have an understanding of increasing up,” claims Krygier.

Krygier has composed a memoir which explores how the postcard thriller led to a subsequent dive into her family’s past. “Do Not Disclose” will be released in the US in August 2021.

Right now, Krygier is still fascinated by aged postcards, and enjoys pursuing social media accounts that put up snapshots of aged mail.

And with her exploration into her individual spouse and children tree far more or fewer concluded, Krygier once in a while ponders sifting as a result of a thrift keep and earning a new postcard the center of a quest.

“It took so substantially of my time and electricity that I you should not know whether I would essentially do it once more, but I have assumed about doing it,” she says.

“Because it was a fantastic journey, and you know, often just random items are just so incredible in life.”

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