Woman returns old love letters from the 1960s to former air hostess

Woman returns old love letters from the 1960s to former air hostess

11/10/2021

When 28-year-old Chelsey Brown was rummaging around a flea market in New York, she was ‘in tears’ when she found a series of beautiful love letters.

She decided to track down the person the notes were addressed to, called ‘Cookie’ by the letters’ author, ‘Bobby’.

Reading through the exchange revealed that Bobby was a soldier at the time, who told Cookie he thought of her often and sent her love.

Chelsey, who regularly visits charity shops and flea markets to find heirlooms that she can return to owners, was unable to utilise the census to track down the address.

So instead, she took to Google to find Cookie’s real name. She looked her up on MyHeritage and saw she had close family and was possibly still alive. 

Chelsey, who is a blogger, then contacted a close cousin of Cookie and was able to send the letters to them. 

‘I saw them in the flea market and instantly knew these were something special,’ Chelsey said.

‘I  always pick up love letters if they have a name or address on them. This was the first time I was able to give back an item directly to someone who was still living versus a descendant or close family member. 

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‘I normally pick up items over 100 years old, but I can’t turn away from love letters. What makes these even more special is that the recipient never received the letters in the first place.’

Cookie was ecstatic to have been given the lost letters because she had never received them.

‘Cookie was an airline hostess in New York back then,’ her cousin explains. ‘She remembers this person and she’s in tears, according to my mom, who was FaceTiming her. 

‘Cookie said she is enjoying reading the letters with a big smile’

Chelsey, originally from Washington DC, returns heirlooms from flea markets as a hobby and has sent back around 200 antiques. Scrolling through public family trees on Ancestry.com, Chelsey is able to reunite the objects with their owner’s descendants. 

‘My dad is a genealogist and growing up I saw him help families from around the world for free, not only help them with finding heritage but also help them fill in the missing pieces of their family history,’ she notes.

‘Because I am an interior decorator, I thrift often and it always broke my heart seeing a family heirloom in some box at the flea market instead of with its rightful family. 

‘One day I just decided to use what I know of genealogy, what my dad taught me, and to use it to trace the items that I find at thrifts and flea markets back. Once I started I never stopped. I try and stay in contact with as many people who I’ve returned heirlooms to as possible!’ 

Despite the high cost of buying the heirlooms and sending them away, Chelsey never asks for any money from the family members she returns the items to. 

‘I spend my own money on this and postage and never ask for repayment from families,’ she said. ‘I have spent well over $1,000 as NYC flea markets are a bit expensive. I’ve also spent hundreds on postage.’

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