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A surprise from the past

July 12, 2013

Milles Nelson holds the V-mail he found in a second-hand piece of furniture.

Sometimes, the past comes back to us in unexpected ways. A little over two months ago, Kettle Falls resident Milles Nelson was refinishing a credenza for his daughter, Debbie, when he discovered a piece of mail hidden away in one of its drawers. However, this was no ordinary piece of mail. It was a piece of V-Mail from one-time Colville resident, Edgar Jarrett, former owner of the town's Napa Auto Parts store, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Jarrett of Colville.The correspondence is dated Sept. 26, 1944 and sent from France.
According to the National Postal Museum website, V-mail, short for Victory Mail, is a hybrid mail process used during WWII in America as the primary and secure method to correspond with soldiers stationed abroad. To reduce the logistics of transferring an original letter across the military postal system, a V-mail letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination.
"I just thought it was an interesting piece of history," says Nelson, who still has the worn, but intact brown envelope with the victory symbol on the front. "It's not everyday you come across something like this." (check out picture attachment accompanying story to get a glimpse of what V-mail looks like).
According to local historian Shirley Dodson, Jarrett graduated from Colville High School in 1940. He joined the United States Army in 1941.
Dodson says Jarrett passed away several years ago. An online records search of Danekas Funeral Chapel yielded no results.
If you have any information about Edgar Jarrett and his service overseas, please email Sophia Aldous at sophia@statesmanexaminer.com or call 509-684-4567.

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