Signed, sealed, delivered - 1969
Illustration by Suzanne Buchanan Cabrera '07
Archival Photography courtesy of the Martha Blakeney
Hodges Special Collections and University Archives,
The holiday card wasn't addressed to a particular person, just an address: Coit Hall, Room 102.
Its message was brief: To you and the girls in Coit Hall Merry Christmas. The return address was clear across the country in San Diego.
What a doofus, thought Susan Henson, half of the duo who lived in 102 Coit in the fall of 1969. The card writer had neglected to properly address the card. My roommate and I were from the same hometown. We knew all the same people. And they both agreed they didn't know the mystery author named Jim Boone or his neat handwriting.
An answer to the riddle would have to wait. With the semester over, the freshmen were waiting on their parents to pick them up for winter break when the mail including the unaddressed card was delivered.
But Susan never forgot. I just thought it'd be a shame for someone's Christmas to be spoiled because she didn't get a card back from somebody they liked or knew." Maybe he just had the wrong room number, she thought. The least she could do was respond and let the writer know the card hadn't reached the intended recipient.
She dropped a note in the mail. About a month letter, a new letter with the same neat handwriting was waiting for her. He said he'd known the girl who lived in the hall the year before. He had an extra Christmas card, and just decided he'd send it to cheer somebody up.
The writer was a Navy seaman stationed in California but originally from North Carolina. He was a pretty silver-tongued devil, Susan remembers. He just sounded very interesting. My roommate thought she'd write him back too, but I said No, this one's mine.
Susan and the sailor wrote pages and pages to each other, waiting the three to four weeks required for posts to make their way across America to the ship where he was stationed and back to campus. With each exchange, they got to know each other better. After some time they decided to chat on the phone, and following a three-hour phone conversation, decided to meet in person.
It was June when he drove up to her parent's house in his dad's new car. He was gorgeous, Susan recalls. Of course he wore his uniform, and in the hills of North Carolina, we didn't see many sailors." About two minutes after she laid eyes on him, Susan knew he had her heart.
He felt the same, and on a visit to UNCG the following semester, asked for her hand in marriage while standing on the bridge that snaked behind Cone Residence Hall. Then Susan's sailor left to heed the call of country and a tour of duty in Vietnam.
I did not step foot on the bridge until he came back 11 months later, she remembered.
The sweethearts wrote scores of letters back and forth while they were apart, counting down the time until they'd be reunited. Susan graduated from UNCG in 1973 and married her sailor a few months later. Thirty-seven years and two children later, the Boones are just as in love. And when Susan wants to remember how their love affair began, she heads for a box of hundreds of letters including the fateful Christmas card that started it all.
By Lanita Withers Goins, University Relations