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Sometimes two people are meant to meet. They fall in love, get married, raise a family, and eventually one-half of the love story passes away.
But sometimes, something so rare happens to rekindle that love, it can only be described as a “miracle.”
Jerry and Emily Oslund moved into their home, just east of Cambridge, approximately three month ago. Jerry was born and raised in the Cambridge area, but moved closer to the metro area when he was 19. Buying the home has brought him back to the Cambridge community once again.
The Oslunds, who celebrated their 30-year wedding anniversary in June, had been living out of efficiency apartments the past five years while they searched for a new home.
Emily admits they had a lot of “criteria” that had to be met when searching for the perfect home. They wanted something in the country, with a hobby farm, acreage and outside storage buildings.
Emily said she “had a feeling this was it,” as she and Jerry pulled up the driveway to look at their eventual home for the first time.
The home had been in foreclosure, and was built in 1899. After seeing the first three month’s heating bills come in around $450 per month, they knew they had to do something.
They decided to install spray foam insulation into the unfinished, upper level of their home, with plans on finishing the upper level the next couple of years.
As Jerry was getting the upstairs ready to be insulated during the evening of Feb. 13, he saw something tucked into one of the walls. He reached down and realized they were letters—loose letters—that he carefully pulled out one-by-one.
Jerry found 30 letters, postmarked primarily from 1935 and 1936, addressed to Vernon Nyberg of Cambridge, written by Deloris Slater of Northfield.
He brought the letters downstairs to show Emily and said, “you’ll never guess what I found.”
Emily looked at the letters and immediately starting reading them. Since it was late in the evening, and the lights in their house are dim, she read a few with plans of reading them again the next morning, on Valentine’s Day.
“Most of the letters I was able to read,” Emily said. “There were some parts where the ink had faded, but the parts written in pencil were pretty legible yet.”
Emily admits she had been getting a little depressed by all the work they had to do on the house and the fact they hadn’t been able to unpack anything but necessities.
However, after reading the letters, her entire outlook changed.
“I put on jazz music from the 1930s and was instantly moved by the letters,” Emily said. “I felt like I was getting to know this young girl, around the age of 15, writing to this young boy around the age 18. She talked about living in Northfield with her aunt and uncle, helping out with the kids, what she enjoyed doing, and just typical teenage girl things.”
Emily feels she was meant to find the letters, and Jerry noted he was surprised roofers didn’t find the letters a year ago when a new roof was put on the home.
“I was really just wanting to get our home settled, and I had been praying to just find some joy in what we were doing,” Emily said. “I was getting a little down, but after Jerry brought me the letters it changed my entire life, and how I felt about our home. Finding these letters has given me so much joy. I feel so differently about this home after finding the letters. This home had a past, and people lives were in twined here.”
Emily feels finding the letters is priceless.
“Jerry always said he thought he would find some sort of treasure in an older home, such as a coin or something,” Emily said. “In my opinion, we found something worth much more than money.”
Through their research, the Oslunds learned Deloris’ brother, Nathan, married Vernon’s sister, Charlotte. Jerry mentioned he knew Charlotte when she worked at the former drugstore on Main Street in Cambridge.
The Oslunds felt compelled to track down Deloris.
“We went on to the computer, and typed in Deloris Nyberg,” Emily explained. “We found her phone number, her age, and saw she was connected to Vernon so we knew the two of them must have gotten married. I decided to call her up, on Valentine’s Day. She answered the phone in such a cheery, chipper voice. I was excited to learn she still was alive, with such a great memory.”
As it turns out, Deloris, who now lives in Richfield, was heading to Cambridge on Saturday, Feb. 16, for a funeral for a family member. After the funeral, Deloris, along with some of her family members, stopped in at the Oslunds.
“It’s hard to imagine why he put those letters in the wall. I imagine he must have been trying to hide them from his siblings,” Deloris laughingly said. “I can’t thank you [Emily and Jerry Oslund] enough for reaching out and returning the letters to me.”
Deloris said she had just started getting to know Vernon when she wrote the letters.
“I met Vernon when I was 15 years-old at a wiener roast on Skogman Lake,” Deloris explained. “I had come home for Easter vacation and my brother Nathan worked at Skogman’s. Vernon ended up driving me home that night.”
Vernon was born Oct. 6, 1917 to Nels. W. Nyberg and Nannie Widell in Isanti County. He attended Moody School Dist. #6 and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1936. Vernon lived with his family until he married Deloris on Aug. 31, 1940 at her parent’s home in Athens.
Following their wedding, the couple moved to Michigan where Vernon learned the tool-and-die-trade. Both he and Deloris were employed at the Ford B-24 bomber plant in Ypsilanti during World War II.
“Vernon worked on the planes in the early stages, and I worked as an inspector looking at the planes before they came off the line,” Deloris said. “Vernon worked on the plane on one end and I worked on the planes right before they flew out.”
After the war they returned to the Cambridge area before moving to western Minnesota for a number of years. During this time, Vernon worked for the American National Insurance Company.
The Nyberg’s final move came in 1949 to the city of Richfield where they built their home and raised a family of five children. Four of the five children are still living, and accompanied Deloris to the Oslunds home this past Saturday.
Vernon passed away Aug. 6, 1998 after 57 years of marriage.
“I just can’t believe these letters were found right around Valentine’s Day,” said daughter Annette Ralph. “This really has been a miracle.”