Steamy Love Letters Found in Wall Take a Twisty Turn

'Baltimore Banner' helps fill in the cracks of tale told by century-old love letters
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2024 3:55 PM CDT
Unearthing the Story Behind Steamy Letters Found in Wall
Stock image. The love letters found in a Baltimore home's wall date back to the 1920s.   (Getty / alkir)

When Joanna Meade's contractor opened up the walls of her 1910 Baltimore home during a bathroom renovation, out came a tin box painted with golden stripes. Inside were 67 love letters postmarked between 1920 and 1921, the paper browned and delicate with age. As she began poring through them, a story unspooled that was so intimate, it made Meade feel as though she were "eavesdropping." Writers Tim Prudente and Stokely Baksh of the Baltimore Banner divulge what comes next as Meade opened the mystery of the addressee, Mrs. R.A. Spaeth, to her Roland Park neighbors on Nextdoor. They became just as hooked on the juicy correspondence, with lines that could have come straight from a romance novel recalling "the sensation of your warm mouth fast upon mine."

Community sleuthing and public records turned up some clues—the sender's longing for someone with "dark eyes and glorious hair" turned out to be the home's former resident, syndicated journalist Edith Spaeth—and logically led them to conclude the letters were written by her doting husband, renowned zoologist Reynold Spaeth. But questions remained, so Meade turned to the Banner to help sift through the tricky handwriting, outdated references, and coded short-hand. Prudente and Baksh walk through how its staffers puzzled through the trove of letters to find a plot twist no one expected: Edith's letters revealed a passionate affair, hidden in the walls for over a century–and in time, they learned exactly who she was seeing: Spaeth's former college roommate. Read the full story here. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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