A Trans-Atlantic Friendship and a Message in a Bottle

Once in every lifetime a friendship comes along that transcends space and time. A friend that, although you don’t see each other all the time, never seems to dull. When you see or talk to each other it is, as if, not a day has passed, and you immediately pick right back up where you were.

This seems to have been the case between Joyce Mary (Ireland) Whitmyer and Ivy Lillian Babb. Joyce was born in Warwick, England in 1926. She lived on Lyttleton Road with her family. In the US we would call Joyce and Ivy, “Rosie, the Riveters”. They worked at John Harris Machine Shop on Miller Road.

This is the most likely place that the two met and worked together for a time and became fast friends. Joyce met an American Soldier in WWII, married him and followed him back to the US in 1946 where they made their life together and raised their family.

In 1946 Ivy wrote this letter to Joyce shortly after her arrival in the US and asks about her journey. She mentions that she can’t bear the thought that Joyce went further than “out for the day”.

The letter was so dear to Joyce that she kept it for 71 years. It was found by her daughter who was inspired to find out more about Ivy. Note that Ivy didn’t sign by her last name, so some detective work was in order.

Ivy did include her address on the first page, so Joyce’s daughter found a group by the name of “Warwick Born & Bred” on Facebook and posted a query.

In the most shocking point of all, she received a response from Ivy’s next-door neighbor who validated Ivy’s surname and gave a better lead for her brother Eugene Victor Babb. When she searched on Ancestry for that name, she came up with my name and wrote to me for more information.

I had half the story included in the tree already. I was able to then expound upon that and bring more life into the story.

3 Years in the US

Ivy mentions in her letter that she had been in the US for 3 years prior and she much preferred it to Warwickshire. With a little research I found several of the Passenger Ship Manifests that she traveled on. By the looks of things they made at least 2 crossings. The final voyage in the record is aboard the S.S. Baltic in 1910, which was a ship operated by the White Star Line.

White Star Line

If the White Star Line sounds familiar, it is for good reason. they were the owners/operators of the S.S. Titanic. Ivy and family made their last known crossing to the US in 1910, which is just 2 years before the S.S. Titanic had its fateful voyage in 1912.

The family was in the US for just 3 years according to the letter, which means they would have made their trip back to England within a year of the Titanic’s sinking. This must have been a gut-wrenching moment as they made their way home to England


So, this letter has finally made its round trip back to the Babb Family. Like a message in a bottle it took 76 years and the invention of the Internet to bring it back to us. But it provides a glimpse of the lives of these two wonderful women and their everlasting friendship!

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