Advertisement

‘Love conquers all’: Vancouver man finds 80-year-old love letters in wall, returns to family

A collection of love letters Dario Trampus found on a renovation job in 2007. Dario Trampus / Instagram

“This awful longing for you just grows and grows until things are unbearable. I can’t write anymore, dearest, my heart is too full.”

While those may sound like the closing lines of a letter from a silver-screen-era romance film, they’re actually part of a real-life love story — and a recently solved mystery.

Read more: ‘I love you because I know you:’ Century-old love letters found in Winnipeg

It’s one small snippet of a trove of letters Vancouver man Dario Trampus found while doing renovations on a Dunbar home in 2007.

Story continues below advertisement

“A couple other guys were tearing down some walls and out popped a whole bunch of letters. They grabbed the letters, they looked at them and they threw in the bin,” he told CKNW’s Mornings with Simi.

“I just ran over to the bin and I said, ‘No, we can’t throw these out.'”

Read more: Woman finds love letter from France on Calgary street, dated 1982

Trampus took the letters home, where he discovered they were a correspondence between a soon-to-be married couple — Len and Mim — penned between 1938 and 1940. Len was in Vancouver doing some kind of medical work. Mim was in Edmonton where she worked at the local hatchery.

“They were very eloquent,” he said. “Reading these letters, and just the way they talked, it was like watching an old Spencer Tracy movie.”

Trampus turned to Google to try and find the authors or their family to return them.

He was able to find a few references to Len at UBC, but nothing more.

Eleven years later, Trampus found the letters again while doing spring cleaning and decided to make a second attempt.

Story continues below advertisement

This time, he posted some images of the letters and the back story to Facebook where an interested cybersleuth tracked down the couple’s death certificates and a lead on two children.

Read more: ‘Love letters only’: Washington woman’s mailbox yearns for strangers’ heartfelt messages

But it wasn’t until last weekend that Trampus was able to connect with the couple’s daughter, Jeanne Pennell, who was — ironically — sitting down for a Father’s Day dinner.

“The phone was ringing in my purse way across the room. And I thought, oh, I won’t bother,” Pennell said.

“A little birdie sort of said, ‘No, go get it.’ So I dug it out of my purse and there was Dario. And he said, ‘Is your name Jeanne Pennell?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he says, ‘Well, I’ve been looking for you for 15 years.'”

Click to play video 'Long-lost Second World War letters found in Weyburn, Sask.' Long-lost Second World War letters found in Weyburn, Sask.
Long-lost Second World War letters found in Weyburn, Sask – Nov 11, 2019

Len, actually Leonard, was an X-ray engineer. Mim, actually Miriam, was an accomplished pianist who performed at some of the city’s major restaurants.

Story continues below advertisement

The pair, Pennell said, tied the knot in July 1940, and were married for 48 years.

But the letters offered her a new insight into their relationship.

It was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I never realized that they were so romantic.”

“They really loved each other. And, you know, this was  … the height of the Second World War during the darkest time.

And now we have very dark times too, everybody’s so anxious and worried about everything. But, you know, love conquers all.”

Trampus said he’s just happy the letters found their way home — a fitting end to a romance that lasted half a century.