(NCS) — It was 2003, and Leora Krygier was rummaging round a thrift retailer close to her residence in Los Angeles.
Krygier wasn’t in search of something specifically, however a field of old classic postcards caught her consideration.
She spent the very best a part of an hour flicking by means of the field, choosing up light dispatches from places throughout the globe and looking out on the scrawled messages to household, mates, family members.
One postcard stood out among the many others.
“I came across this specific one, which looked different from any of the other postcards that I’d ever seen there,” Krygier remembers. “It wasn’t glossy, it wasn’t pretty. It looked like it was mailed in 1942. And it looked like it was some kind of thank you card, from a soldier.”
On the entrance of the light, sepia dispatch was a sketch of a soldier smoking a cigarette, with the caption: “We’re all lit up — let battle commence.”
The message on the again was brief and candy.
“Many thanks,” it learn. “I’ll soon be out of here now, then I shall be lit up! God Bless America and F.D.R.”
The mail was addressed to a W.H Caldwell Esq, resident of Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn. It was signed by a Private A.T Maynard, a British soldier.
There was a submit stamp from Tottenham, London.
Krygier set the field of postcards down. She knew this was the one she needed to purchase. She bought it for round 50 cents.
Leora Krygier purchased this postcard in 2003 in a Los Angeles thift retailer.
Courtesy Leora Krygier
Back at residence, Krygier examined the postcard nearer.
She figured Maynard was thanking Caldwell — for sending him some cigarettes, maybe? But actually, the message prompted as many questions because it answered.
Someone who was a younger man within the early Nineteen Forties would probably be of their late 70s or early 80s in 2003, Krygier realized. There was a probability that Maynard was nonetheless alive.
“I wonder if I could find this person who wrote it,” Krygier remembers pondering.
It would not be a complete stab at nighttime — she had his final title and his initials to go on, and his serial quantity was printed beneath his signature.
And there have been the small print of the addressee, which could possibly be one other lead.
Still, within the early noughties, monitoring individuals down on-line wasn’t that straightforward. Krygier could not do a Twitter call-out, and ancestry and household historical past web sites had been nonetheless of their infancy.
She figured her first port of name ought to be the British Army. She wrote a letter with the small print and requested extra data. But she says British Army officers had been hesitant to assist at first.
“They kept telling me it’s confidential, it’s confidential, we cannot give you any information about him,” she remembers.
Krygier wrote again and requested if they may at the least let her know Maynard’s first title.
After extra forwards and backwards, the British Army informed her that, in accordance to their data, Private Maynard’s full title was Arthur Thomas Maynard.
This key element confirmed, Krygier’s subsequent step was to seek the advice of latest UK census data.
“I basically wrote out, I don’t know, maybe 50, 60 letters to random people who had the same name,” Krygier says. “I told them my only purpose was to return the postcard, not to make any money out of it or anything like that.”
For Krygier, this quest was an intriguing historic undertaking for her to work on in her spare time, she had a busy day job as a decide and lawyer.
And whereas she actually hoped she’d succeed with her mission and discover Arthur Maynard, sending letters out blindly nonetheless felt like a lengthy shot.
In her analysis, Krygier additionally found that there was a marketing campaign to ship cigarettes to Allied forces through the Over-Seas Tobacco Fund. She figured Caldwell had donated to that marketing campaign, and that is why Arthur Maynard was writing to thank him.
Krygier researched Caldwell and located he had British roots. As far as she may surmise, he had no direct descendents. It did not seem to be that Caldwell and Maynard would have identified each other personally.
Over the months that adopted, Krygier bought a number of responses from individuals who thought Maynard might have be their father. It turned on the market had been a honest few Arthur Maynards who’d fought for Britain again within the conflict; each turned out to be a false lead.
But in the future, virtually a year into her quest, Krygier bought an e mail from Michael and Valerie Boxall, residents of the agricultural village of Stibbard in Norfolk, England.
The Boxalls was writing on behalf of their neighbor, Tom Maynard, and his sister Winnie Maynard Davis. The two siblings, now of their 80s, had a brother known as Arthur Maynard who’d been in the identical unit because the letter writer, however who’d since handed away.
Michael Boxall defined he was writing on behalf of the Maynard siblings as a result of neither of them owned a pc, however he did.
He requested if Krygier may ship a photocopy of the postcard, so they may attempt to match the handwriting.
She obliged, and in return the Maynard siblings despatched over, through Michael Boxall, an instance of their brother’s penmanship.
When Krygier opened the e-mail, she gasped.
“I didn’t even need a handwriting expert, to see that it was a match. It was like a perfect match. Even a lay person could see that. The handwriting was perfect,” she says.
All the useless ends and unanswered letters had been price it. She’d discovered Arthur Maynard eventually.
An concept started to type. What if, slightly than simply sending the postcard again throughout the Atlantic, she delivered it in individual?
A transatlantic reunion
Leora Krygier with Winnie Maynard Davis and Tom Maynard in Stibbard within the UK.
Courtesy Leora Krygier
In late summer time 2004, Krygier packed her baggage and boarded a flight to London with her teenage daughter in tow.
Her purpose, she says was “closing an arc.” Her household thought she was “a little crazy,” she remembers, however they understood how a lot the analysis meant to her.
After arriving in London, Krygier and her daughter took a practice northeast of London to the town of Norwich, England after which traveled on to the village of Stibbard.
“My daughter was 16 and it was our first mother-daughter girls’ trip together,” remembers Krygier. “We spent a week in London too where I had rented an apartment and where we tried very hard not to be typical tourists.”
Certainly, assembly Tom Maynard and Winnie Maynard Davis was removed from a typical vacationer exercise.
The encounter was an expertise Krygier says she’ll always remember.
“They really treated me like long lost family, and it was so special,” she says.
She additionally loved assembly the Boxalls, and different residents of Stibbard who’d heard about her quest.
Leora Krygier took this photograph of Winnie Maynard-Davis and Tom Maynard throughout her go to to Stibbard.
Courtesy Leora Krygier
And sitting in Tom Maynard’s kitchen over a cup of tea, Krygier introduced the siblings with the just about 60-year-old postcard.
In flip, they stuffed within the gaps about Private Arthur Maynard’s life.
“I had hoped that I would have found him alive, obviously,” says Krygier. “And it turned out that this soldier, he had a very sad life. He had never married, never had children. But he loved classics. He loved to paint.”
Hanging on Tom Maynard’s partitions had been a few of his brother’s delicate watercolors.
The group talked about Arthur Maynard for hours, exhibiting Krygier his art work alongside letters and artifacts from his life.
“It was as if this interaction had brought their brother back to life again,” says Krygier.
Before she left, Tom Maynard gave Krygier a few of his brother’s watercolors to take residence.
She was touched and accepted graciously.
(*60*) she says.
Lost in time
For a while afterwards, Krygier saved in contact with the Maynard siblings and the Boxalls.
She loved one other go to to Stibbard a few years later with her husband and daughter, and in addition met up with the Maynard siblings at Winnie’s daughter’s home on a later journey to the UK.
Tom Maynard and Winnie Maynard Davis have since handed away, however Krygier stays in contact with the Boxalls through the occasional e mail and annual Christmas playing cards.
Following the Maynard siblings’ deaths, Krygier is not certain what occurred to the postcard. Although Krygier met Winnie Maynard Davis’ kids, she’s not in contact with them anymore.
“Did somebody in the family, take it, keep it, throw it away?” she wonders. “It’s just a really small postcard. It could easily have disappeared from the face of the Earth.”
But Krygier does not thoughts if the postcard’s been misplaced within the ether.
“That’s the way things are sometimes,” she says.
After all, now Maynard’s legacy extends throughout the Atlantic to Los Angeles, the place a few of his watercolor work grasp on the partitions of Leora Krygier’s residence.
And discovering the postcard additionally prompted Krygier to embark on her family historical past quest.
“When I first visited Tom we had many wonderful conversations about life and family,” she says. “He asked me if I had researched my own family tree and it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t. I realized then that perhaps this year-long research into a random stranger’s story was my circuitous route towards research into my own family history and the threads that wove into my own life.”
Krygier’s father was a World War II Holocaust survivor who left Europe within the Nineteen Forties. He met Krygier’s mom on the opera in Israel. Krygier was born in Israel and the household emigrated to the United States when she was younger.
“I realized that much of his persona and behavior as husband and father was bound up in his history as a Holocaust survivor, something I didn’t really understand growing up,” says Krygier.
Today, Krygier remains to be fascinated by old postcards, and enjoys following social media accounts that submit snapshots of old mail.
And with her analysis into her family tree kind of concluded, Krygier often ponders sifting by means of a thrift retailer and making a new postcard the middle of a quest.
“It took so much of my time and energy that I don’t know whether I would actually do it again, but I have thought about doing it,” she says.
“Because it was a wonderful journey, and you know, sometimes just random things are just so amazing in life.”