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Family history

Old letters recall couple’s postwar romance

Richard Goo was stationed in Japan as part of the U.S. occupation after World War II. Image: NPR

The recent discovery of several 1940s love letters stashed inside a wooden box has shed new light on one family’s role in American history.

The letters were written by sweethearts Martha Kekauililani Matsuda and Richard Goo in 1947, when Matsuda lived in Honolulu and Goo was a soldier stationed in U.S.-occupied Japan.

The notes — including envelopes bearing 5-cent airmail stamps — were recently found in the California home shared by the couple, who married in 1949 and raised eight children.

Most of the letters were written by Matsuda and describe her life in post-World War II Honolulu, including bowling and “jitterbugging” with her friends. She also expresses her insecurities as a woman of Japanese descent in the era of internment camps.

Sara Kehaulani Goo, a granddaughter of the couple and an NPR editor in Washington, DC, describes the discovery of the letters in a lovingly crafted story posted last week.

“Grandma’s letters … provided glimpses of U.S. history beyond what I had learned in textbooks,” Goo writes.

She hopes other families can have similar experiences.

“Family time capsules like these exist across America, some still waiting to be found in attics, closets, old trunks and basements.”

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