January 16 - Dating Service

Story topics

On January 16, possibly in 1898, Sallie Brown in New York City wrote a witty letter to her friend Paul Laurence Dunbar in Washington, D. C.  She mentioned some gifts that she and Paul had sent to each other around the holidays.

I do believe silence is golden, or Klondikish, as it brought me your charming letter in dialect not that I wished or mean to be silent for long so do not keep any such delusions, but the fact is I have been real sick just droopy sick.  And then too I was a little mad at you before Xmas.  I sent you Revenge of a Bachelor and put a letter in the box with it.  And not a word from you whether you received it or not.  Sent it 734 Fourth St.  Of course it was not much of a present but you might have said you received it.  I thank you so much for the lovely calendar.  When people say that any old date does for me in writing a letter, but your dainty offering with its daily helpful words will be a pleasant reminder of time in its flight, even to your sister in the sere and yellow leaf.

Sarah "Sallie" Brown to Paul Laurence Dunbar, January 16, [1898 or 1899].  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).

On January 18, definitely in 1898, Paul wrote to his fiancée Alice Ruth Moore and mentioned Sallie and the gifts.

Do you hear from Sallie?  She sent me a story that belonged to me without writing to me.  Is she mad at me, I wonder.  She didn't acknowledge the calendar I sent her for New Years.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, January 18, 1898.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).

At the top of her letter to Paul, Sallie wrote "Monday January 16," but January 16 wasn't a Monday in 1898.  She may have made a mistake about the date, despite Paul's gift of a calendar.  In her letter, Sallie admitted that "any old date does for me in writing a letter."  In addition to a calendar, Sallie could have also used an address book:  Paul lived at 1934 Fourth Street N. W. in Washington, and Sallie sent his gift to 734 Fourth Street.