Yankee Classic: Love Letters at the Waybury Inn
Nobody remembers when the desk first came to the Waybury Inn. The East Middlebury, Vermont, landmark has been in continuous operation since 1820, so it’s a good bet that the desk, with its fold-out writing surface and dozens of small drawers and crannies, has been there for decades.
For many years the desk sat quietly in the inn’s Room 9, the honeymoon suite. No doubt most newlyweds paid little attention to it, their energy focused on other things. But one couple took the time to explore the quirky antique, and their curiosity was rewarded with the discovery of a slender secret drawer, in plain view though cunningly disguised as a bit of fretwork. To commemorate the moment, the bride dashed off a note and inserted it into the secret compartment:
June 27,1987. On this day Julie M. Hughes married Michael Southwick in Middlebury, Vt. We spent our wedding night here. We hope you enjoyed your stay here and leave a note, as we have, for others to find in this secret drawer of the grand ol’ desk.
Thus began the romantic and very quiet tradition of the secret drawer in Room 9. Only those lucky enough to stay in this particular room – and clever enough to discover the secret drawer — have been aware of the custom. In time, over 200 eloquent and sometimes deeply personal messages would be left in the room. They now reside in a shoe box stashed in a low drawer, waiting to be savored by a new generation of guests. The writing is by turns passionate, philosophical, comic, and profound.
As recently as eight weeks ago neither of us knew the other existed… We both have decided we wait to spend the rest of our lives together. Some things you know right away, and this is one of them. Maureen, l love you, I always will.
And this: In just one evening in this most peaceful place we have dedicated our lives to each other and charted our future together. We promise to return and update you on all our future exploits.
Only a minority of the notes are from newlyweds, but all of them explore the magic of romance.
We discovered the secret box and spent 30 minutes smiling and laughing together. We are not newlyweds. Our trip has been one of renewed love and friendship. After 16 years, we find we can still find things to talk about besides “the kids.” I love you, Ed. Thanks for a week to remember.
Many of the letters are surprisingly candid, with references to broken relationships, personal hardship, illness, and death. A husband has surprised his wife with a Vermont vacation because… in February we found out that our eldest daughter has diabetes. She was almost at coma level. Then just a week ago I found out I’m going to have surgery.