“Dear, Mom. Received another letter from you today and was happy to hear that everything is okay,” wrote 22-year-old Army Sgt. John Gonsalves from Bad Orb, Germany, on Dec. 6, 1945. “As for myself, I’m fine and getting along okay. But as far as the food it’s pretty lousy most of the time.”
It would take 76 years and three days for the World War II soldier's letter to finally reach its destination in Woburn, Mass., where Gonsalves grew up with six siblings. Its intended recipient was long gone.
On Dec. 9, Angelina “Jean” Gonsalves – the army sergeant’s widow – opened a package containing the long-lost note, according to WFXT.
“Imagine that! Seventy-six years!” she told the station from her Woburn home Tuesday. “I just I couldn’t believe it. And then just his handwriting and everything. It was just so amazing.”
The couple met around five years after Gonsalves sent the letter. They dated for four years and were married for 61, raising five sons together. After the war, Gonsalves went on to earn a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Northeastern University and worked at GTE (previously Sylvania) for more than 30 years.
What happened to the package for most of the nearly eight decades between Gonsalves penning the letter and its arrival in Woburn is a mystery. According to WFXT, the package appeared “suddenly and inexplicably” last month at a United States Postal Service facility in Pittsburgh, Penn.
When it showed up there, USPS employees searched for next-of-kin to Gonsalves, who passed away in 2015. His mother, also named Angelina, has passed on as well.
However, they were able to find an address for his widow, who turns 90 this month.
USPS sent a note expressing condolences for the family’s loss along with the package.
“We are uncertain where this letter has been for the past seven-plus decades, but it arrived at our facility approximately six weeks ago,” the letter reads. “Due to the age and significance to your family history… delivering this letter was of utmost importance to us.”
After they received the letter, the Gonsalves family called the facility to thank them for delivering the package.
“It’s like he came back to me, you know? Really. That was amazing,” Mrs. Gonsalves said. “He was a good man. He really was. Everybody loved him.”
Sgt. Gonsalves signed the letter, “Love and kisses, Your son Johnny. I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope.”