WOBURN, Mass. — A letter penned by a young Army sergeant in Germany to his mother in Woburn was lost in the mail for 76 years until finally being delivered last month.
On Dec. 6, 1945, 22-year-old Sgt. John Gonsalves wrote to his mother, sending his well wishes and hopes of returning home soon.
“Dear, Mom. Received another letter from you today and was happy to hear that everything is okay,” he wrote from Bad Orb, in central Germany. “As for myself, I’m fine and getting along okay. But as far as the food it’s pretty lousy most of the time.”
That letter wouldn’t make it to its destination, sitting unopened for more than three quarters of a century, until suddenly and inexplicably, late last month, it showed up in a United States Postal Service facility for processing and distribution in Pittsburgh.
USPS employees searched for next-of-kin to Gonsalves, who had died in 2015, his mother also long gone. They found an address for Gonsalves’s widow, Angelina, whom the young solider would only meet five years after he sent that letter.
On Dec. 9, 2021, Angelina “Jean” Gonsalves opened a package containing the sentimental note from her brave would-be husband to his worried mother.
“Imagine that! Seventy-six years!” Mrs. Gonsalves said to Boston 25 News from her Woburn home Tuesday. “I just I couldn’t believe it. And then just his handwriting and everything. It was just so amazing.”
Along with the handwritten letter was a note from USPS expressing condolences for Mrs. Gonsalves’s loss. The couple was married for 61 years and raised five children.
“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.”
The Gonsalves family called the facility to thank them for their dedication to delivering the letter, which Sgt. Gonsalves had signed, “Love and kisses, Your son Johnny. I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope.”
Reading the letter has brought back fond memories for Mrs. Gonsalves, who turns 90 years old this month. While she spent another holiday without her husband, she felt his presence more than she could have ever expected.
“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.”
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