I found the letters on the floor. I could easily have missed them, for the floor was deep in paper as though a burglar had visited (though a burglar might well have been more careful than the officers of the New South Wales Trustee and Guardian who were responsible for Kim’s affairs at the time).
They had sifted through the contents of her home with so much haste, or so little attention, that they had also missed an envelope full of cash, obviously Kim’s emergency funds, and Kim’s original advance care directive, both of which lay hidden amongst the years-old receipts and correspondence.
There was a dusty letter from Don Chipp, the former Liberal Cabinet Minister who had left Federal Parliament and founded a new political party, the Australian Democrats, in 1977.
Kim had evidently written to him and he had written back to thank her:
Dear Kim, What a beautiful person you must be …
He wasn’t wrong. Nor was he alone. Also consigned to the floor, were photos of Kim dining at a number of glamorous restaurants with a celebrated ABC newsreader of her time. She was exquisitely dressed in each. Her wardrobe was carefully stored in the front room of her Manly cottage – an entire clothes rack for long-sleeved silk blouses; another for sleeveless silk. She wore pearls and cashmere and kid gloves soft as satin. I only learned later that St Vincent de Paul was her boutique of choice.
The love letters were folded together in a manila envelope. I picked them up and they were in such good condition that it took a moment to register how old they were – they had all been written during the Second World War. They were from four different young men. The only thing that linked them was that each one contained a proposal of marriage.
It was clear that each had been part of a long correspondence, but Kim had kept only the letters in which her correspondents had proposed.
I feel that you have been very sweet writing so often to cheer me up and I think I shall do something about it although correspondence cannot help matters. I don’t know whether you have ever thought about making any arrangements about the future but I shall be delighted if you would consider my offer of an engagement which you might prefer to keep secret while this war lasts. I feel that a girl should not be tied up to anyone who might be incapacitated but I leave this entirely to you for your decision with your good judgement. As far as I am concerned you are the only girl who has ever thrilled me and I would love to have some sort of understanding between ourselves for the future.
Lots of love …
With the letters was a photograph of a young, 16-year-old Kim, smartly dressed in hat and gloves, snapped in a city street, and one of an equally good-looking man with a note on the back: “Mostar, Yugoslavia”. I can only guess the significance of the two photos. The man was probably Rolf, the German whom she married as soon as the Second World War ended and he was released from the internment camp where he had been imprisoned as an enemy alien. The one of Kim was probably the same one which she had sent to each of her correspondents, and which they all mentioned.
Your photo has taken the place of honour in the household on top of the wireless. Incidentally it has caused quite a commotion in the family. My cousin, who does quite a bit of model work … has told everyone about it. Of course they all want a look. It is really beautiful …
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
SAM NEILL “Home at last”
Sam Neill’s antics on social media brought joy to millions through the bleak days of lockdown while he, like many, was stranded far from home. Now back in New Zealand, he chats exclusively to Susan Chenery, and we visit his wild, windswept Otago farm.
Life after death
Living on the land and her love for her children helped trailblazer Emily Brett cope with the heartbreak of losing her husband. Susan Chenery reports.
The QUIETEST KILLER
After 25 years of marriage, Michele Lord told police she thought her husband was drugging her. A week later she was dead. Her family tells Genevieve Gannon about the insidious threat of coercive abuse.
The brightest star
When Olympic swimmer Brooke Hanson lost her son, Jack, at just nine months old, she couldn’t see how she would ever find joy again. But now, this proud mother of four tells Samantha Trenoweth, she is raising a family who cherish each moment and treasure every opportunity to give back.
The best thing since fortified bread
Thanks to their tenacious lobbying to have folate added to every loaf of bread, Aussie professors Fiona Stanley and Carol Bower have saved more than 4000 babies from spina bifida and other neural tube defects. Genevieve Gannon learns more …
Naomi Watts Lessons in life & love
When Naomi Watts met Sam Bloom, the courageous Aussie she portrays in her latest film, they bonded for life. In a moving interview, Naomi tells Juliet Rieden about the power of family love, bringing her children back to Australia and embracing her 50s.
A right royal Spanish mystery
Why has King Juan Carlos of Spain gone missing? William Langley investigates the unfolding scandal, replete with unexplained fortunes and an exotic mistress.
Which Road To The Future Will We Choose?
This COVID restart finds us at a fork in the road with permission to reset the future. Samantha Trenoweth asks some of the smartest people on the planet what they see ahead.
Miranda Tapsell Chasing My Dreams
She’s feisty, resolute and isn’t afraid to challenge stereotypes. Miranda Tapsell talks to Juliet Rieden about her lucky childhood, reaching for the stars and her husband’s surprise proposal.
This Way To A Waste-Free Mind
Eliminating waste is something every household strives for. But, says Anita Vandkye in this extract from her new book A Zero Waste Family in Thirty Days, the beginning of your overhaul should start with self-care.
TV / JEN CHANEY - Novice in Office
An aging businessman enters politics on a whim. Heard that one before?
KIM & KANYE: $1 BILLION CLIMAX
Lurid details of divorcing duo’s brawls & His secret life down on the ranch
BOBBY BROWN'S GRIEF TAKES TWISTED TURN
Fears dead son was target of murder conspiracy!
KIM & KANYE FOOD FIGHT!
His fatty treats make her want to gag!
THE EMPIRE CRUMBLES
GOING BROKE! WITH THEIR SHOW LEAVING THE AIR EARLY NEXT YEAR, THE KARDASHIAN-JENNER CREW COULD STAND TO LOSE IT ALL.
INSULIN: Bodybuilder Friend or Foe?
Insulin is an extremely anabolic hormone that has the ability to drastically increase muscle protein synthesis, enhancing muscle growth.
BOBBY BROWN: ‘CURSE' STOLE MY SON'S LIFE
GRIEVING Bobby Brown worries he’s “cursed” after the tragic death of his 28-yearold son, Bobby Jr., according to sources.
CATFIGHT OVER KIM!
North Korean dictator has three gals on string
The Sabaki Revolution
As Seen Through the Evolution of Enshin Karate’s Rules, Concepts and Techniques
Kim & Kanye - IN THE CRUNCH!
Plan secret divorce showdown