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A History in Letters Home to Andover

When Doc Common wrote to his wife from occupied Berlin on Thanksgiving Day 1945, he began the letters, as he had hundreds of others, with the words, “Dearest Bea”. This letter stands out because it is written on Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery, a trophy of war from Der Fuhrer’s own desk at the Reichstag taken by victorious American paratroopers.

picture of letter on german stationary
An excerpt of Doc Common's letter to Bea Nov 22, 1945

Dearest Bea is the title of a book by Bea and Bob Common’s son John and his wife Linda. Doc and Bea exchanged letters almost daily, which Bea carefully kept in a tin box for the rest of her life. This treasure of preserved correspondence is a beautiful love story and glimpse into the stories, sacrifices, and personal observations of Dr. John Commons, Dental Officer to the 82nd Airborne Division. The letters and his diary from 1944 and 1945 cover when he trained as a paratrooper, was transported to Europe abord the Queen Mary, witnessed the final battles of WWII and served in the occupation of defeated Nazi Germany.

After the war, Doc returned to Andover where he and Bea lived on Church Street. They raised two sons, John, and Jeff. At his dental office on Main Street, he served several generations of the people of Andover.

After both Bea and Doc had passed the letters spent many years unread in the attic of John and Linda in Charleston, SC. Linda told this correspondent that she was reluctant to read them, lest they be too private. After she decided to have a look, she brought flowers to their graves at Hillside Cemetery in Andover and asked for guidance if this would be OK.

Throughout the Covid lockdown John and Linda read the letters and set forth on the project of transcribing them, decoding the cursive handwriting and editing them into a beautifully designed book. The book was intended for their immediate family; however, friends and others have snapped up the most of the 100 copies printed.

On Thursday evening, September 30, 2021 a well attended book signing event was hosted at the Hann Homestead Inn. At this gathering John and Linda shared the story of the books creation with friends and well-wishers. Most of the original copies are now spoken for. The enthusiasm shown so far has them considering a second printing.

John and Linda at the Hann Homestead reception and book signing event

© AndoverExclusive 2021

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