Monday, March 8, 2010

A Post Card from a Stranger

My Uncle, Stanley Elmer Allen, Jr. during WWII

Sometime in February 1945 my grandmother was shopping at Burrows and Sanborn, a department store in Lynn, Massachusetts. She dropped a letter to her son, my uncle, who was serving as an airman in Guam during World War II. A woman from Swampscott, Frances Ronzano, found the letter in the stairway and mailed it. Then this kind woman dropped a postcard in the mail to Nana, and let her know that her letter was on its way to her son.

Mrs. John A. Ranzano, Jr.
                                             5 Shelton Road, Swampscott, Massachusetts
                                                Feb. 13th [1945, per the postmark on the front]
Dear Mrs. Allen,
Today I found a letter that you dropped on
the stairs in Burrows and Sanborn's.  I just
want you to know that I mailed it for
you.  I knew you would be anxious to
know if by any chance someone would
mail it.  More than delighted to do it
for a service man
                               Yours truly,
                                Frances Ronzano

click on images to enlarge

The stationary is labeled, Mrs. John A. Ronzano, Jr. at 5 Shelton Road, Swampscott, Massachusetts. I couldn’t find a reference to anyone named Ronzano of Swampscott on except for a reference to a “Ronzano Family Memorial Scholarship” under awards given at Swampscott High School.

Using I was able to find a John Ronzano household in the 1920 Federal Census, in Swampscott there was a John A. Ronzano, age 27; Hazel R. Ronzano, age 23, and John A. Ronzano, jr., age 4 ½. The Ronzano family is also in the 1910 Census, and John Alexander Ronzano’s World War II Draft Card, dated 1942. In the city directories, John A. Ronzano was living at 9 Shelton Road up until 2002. According to the Social Security Death Index, he died on 1 January 2001 in Swampscott. There was not a record for Frances in the SSDI.

I found references on the internet, through Google, of the Burrows & Sanborn store in Lynn. I even found a reference to Charles Sidney Sanborn, son of John Sidney Sanborn and Frances Alexander, on page 71 of “The Register” a book of memoirs by the Lynn Historical Soceity published in 1931. He went to work for a dry goods firm in 1872, known as Homan & Burrows, which later became the retail store Burrows & Sanborn.

My uncle, Stanley Elmer Allen, Jr., served with the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific. He was part of the 21st Bomber Command as a tail gunner on a B-29 named “Orpen’s Orphans”, named for Colonel Bud Orpen. His unit was involved with the final bombing of Japan and Tokyo at the end of World War II. These final bombings started in February 1945 (at the same time my Nana wrote her letter) and ran through the summer until the B-29s hit the Tokyo arsenal complex on August 10, 1945. He died at the Maine Veteran’s Home in South Paris, Maine on 14 July 2003. I never did find out if he got his letter from his mother.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I am from Swampscott, Ma and know the Ronzano family who still live on Shelton Rd. The father Donato Ronzano was in the Navy in four foreign wars. The Mexican War, The Spanish - American War, WWI & WWII

    1. Thanks, Ken! I recently heard from a member of the Ronzano family, and the woman who wrote the postcard is still alive today. Isn't that amazing?

  2. Hello Heather, My aunt Frances Ronzano passed away on Jan 27th, 2015. She was 95 years old. Just wanted you to know. Leslie

    1. Thanks, Leslie, I'll tell my Mom. She has held onto the post card all these years!

  3. I restored Donato Ronzano's headstone today as part of my non-profit that i run called the North Shore Cemetery Preservation Project.
    I do want to find out any military information I can about Donato