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A Letter to Formally Date a Girl

By Angel Nuñez

Very often when I address young boys and girls on my book “25 Years Ago”, they ask me questions that remind me of other topics.  This week the first form Students at San Pedro High asked about courting and romance.  I even had to sing a song that formed part of a serenade years ago in San Pedro.  Today I recall how a young lover went about requesting the privilege to date a young lady and become her fiancee.  Here is the letter written by a young lover to his future (hopeful) father-in-law.

A Letter to Formally Date a Girl -Old Fashioned Courting

With this letter Antoño, who had been courting Rosita at the park, at parties and on the streets, announces to Rosita’s parents his good intentions towards their daughter. He wants to make formal his relationship with her. Previously, she had been his “enamorada” (girlfriend) but he now wants her to be his “novia” (fiance). court
Years ago in San Pedro, Antoño would write in his best handwriting or have a confidential friend of his write it out. He would place the letter in an envelope and send it to his future father-in-law. Any young boy on the street would deliver it for 25 cents. If he wanted to look good and gain favor with the family, he would send it with a young brother of the girl. Some brave young men delivered it themselves.

This custom of writing letters to request visiting rights to a girl’s home was common years ago in San Pedro.  It was the official or formal way to commence a relationship.  In fact, a father would feel offended if a boy would start coming to his house without ‘this’ formal request and ‘his’ official permission.

The father would then do several things. He would inquire whether the daughter also loved the young man. He would discuss with his wife whether she consented to this relationship. He would also talk to the young man’s parents to find out whether they knew and approved of this relationship. He would also inquire whether this particular young man had written and sent other similar letters to other parents and whether he was a “Don Juan” (Casanova).  If after his discussions and investigations he was satisfied, he would then respond with another letter. This sometimes took a week or two or even a month. During this long week or weeks, the boy was in tension and almost in fear. He, of course, would be his best self. He would dress well and pass often by the girl’s house. He would not drink so as to cause a good impression. He would not smoke, not curse or swear; in general he would to be a fine gentleman.

And then finally, one day a little boy would approach the young lover with an envelope with a reply letter. And then the nervousness and tension increased. This could be a letter of rejection or letter of acceptance. In our next week’s episode, we will have those two letters and what followed consequently.  This is what happened years ago in San Pedro in a relationship of two teenagers wanting to formalize their love relationship. No texting years ago in San Pedro!

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