Walter began training for the U.S. Navy at Great Lakes, Illinois. He was in Company 710.
From Illinois he went to Camp Endicotte in Davisville, RI - Seabee Training Camp.
His Company was sent on to Camp Parks in Shoemaker, CA. and then to the Pacific: Pearl
Harbor, Toyko Bay, Guam and Manus Islands.
Walter was almost 18 years old when this correspondence began. Rosemarie was a
sophomore at St. David High School in Detroit. These letters, along with the pencil
Rose wrote hers with, were found in her cedar box after she died in 1995.
May 29, 1945
My darling Rose,
I hope this finds you well and happy. I can't give any exact date of my leave or what
happens to me, its against Navy regulations. Enclosed find the "Great Lakes News,"
I thought you might be interested. I've got 7 of my musts completed, plenty more to go.
In case you're interested, I'm saving all the letters I receive from you, because each one
brings a little happiness. Well, I can't think of anything more to say, just wanted to write
a few lines to let you know you're still tops with me. Send me a photo, please.
Friday June 8, 1945
I had my last test today for this year. I hope I pass it. We had class day yesterday
and all the seniors were crying because it their last day in school. I wonder if I'll cry
when it's time for me to graduate.
Bill called me up again last night and wants me to go out with him. I don't know what
to tell him. I can't say that I am sick all the time. Looks like you got some competition.
But just keep being a good sailor and who knows you may win.
June 14, 1945
I'm sorry you didn't receive a letter from me. I don't know where I missed? Unless it
was Sunday. You ask if I was well or not, thank you for asking. It's kind of nice to know you care.
You said something about coming home in 32 days. Well if you do, you will be home on (your cousin) Marion's
birthday, July 13th.
Boy is it ever a mad house here. My cousin just came home after (serving)
three years in Italy and somebody kept walking in every few minutes.
Rosie's cousin, Henry Knoche, got married to Mary Lou Ruhlman that summer on July 14th.
Wally was home on leave for the wedding. Henry lived with his Uncle Joe and Aunt Sadie Schulte for awhile.
Members of the wedding party were Margaret Ruhlman, Celia Ruhlman, Rosemarie Schulte, Pat Geiger, Art Knoche,
Leo Ruhlman, Stanley Andrzejewski and Darlene Bruman as flower girl. Joe's mother's maiden name was Knoche.
My Darling Rose,
We began wearing our whites at noon today, they feel swell but that means more washing.
Bruno Slogger is going to the Seabees with me. His home is in Chicago but he said he might stay in Detroit
with me for a few hours so he can meet you. I went to the movies last night and saw Danny Kay in "The Wonder
Man." It was a good picture, a bit screwy but very humorous.
Gee I can't wait till I can be with you again honey. We're in a different camp here now.
I'm still waiting to get word from the Seabees. I'll be going to Rhode Island. We got our company pictures
today and say Darling I'm getting my personal pictures Tuesday. I don't know whether they'll be very good,
but I tried to keep a straight face when I had them taken. Well Dear, till I see you again its "Goodnight Darling."
The Wonder Man was released in 1945. Danny Kaye played a boisterous night club entertainer,
Buzzy Bellow, who witnesses a murder committed by the gangster Ten Grand Jackson (Steve Cochran). Two of Ten Grand's
thugs kill Buzzy and dump his body in a lake in Brooklyn. Buzzy comes back as a ghost and summons his
bookworm twin Edgar (also Danny Kaye) to help the police nail Ten Grand Jackson. Virginia Mayo played another
From Camp Endicotte, Davisville, Rhode Island, (Seabee Training Camp)
July 24, 1945
Well I hope that by now you've received some of my letters, because the postal service here is lousy.
I haven't received anything but my transfer mail from Great Lakes. We had another rugged day, 2 hours swimming
and 2 hours of close order drill this morning; this afternoon we had 2 more hours of marching and 2 hours of
chemical warfare I'll try and write again tomorrow. "Goodnight Darling."
Thursday August 8, 1945
Yesterday the mailman made a mistake and put one of your letters in the wrong mail box, so I didn't get it
until PM, but that was okay. Gee, I am sorry to hear that you won't be able to meet us at the Falls.
I guess it can't be helped though. I suppose now if I get lonely out there I will have to get a man from the
naval camp in Buffalo. I might go swimming this afternoon, only thing is if I go and my cold gets worse,
I might not be able to leave with your Aunt (Hanna) next week. If that happened, I think I would just
die, I'm so sick of not doing anything.
P.S. Sorry for griping and I was kidding about going out with a sailor from Buffalo.
Rose went on a trip with Wally's Aunt Hanna and some family friends (Betty and Albert Reidel) from Ohio
to Niagara Falls. They returned Friday 24 after a trip lasting several days. They were in Buffalo at one point,
which is on the Lake Erie coastline. Oswego, NY, where Rose's biological grandfather was born in 1862,
is about 160 miles farther northeast by Lake Ontario.
Thursday August 16, 1945
Sorry I didn't write yesterday, but there was so much going on I didn't have time. It seemed like all of
my relatives were here to celebrate the end of the war, and I mean celebrate. Boy you should have been here
Tuesday night. Cars were all honking their horns. Everybody was throwing papers all over and service men were
grabbing girls and kissing them. Boy some fun.
Thursday August 23, 1945
In my last letter I told you I was going fishing. I didn't catch anything but we had a lot of fun. Boy you
should have seen what they made me wear. I had altered Betty's husband's overalls and had his socks and shoes.
The only thing I had on of my own was my green sweater, the one that is three times too big for me. Did they
laugh when I had all that combination on. They wanted to take a picture of me and send it to you, but they didn't
have any film - thank heavens. Albert kept calling me a boy because of the clothes and I had my hair up and that
made me look all the more like one.
From C.B.R.D. Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California
Sept. 5, 1945
My Darling Rose,
Well my long weary trip has ended. We started out at 4:05 Friday afternoon and got in here at 10:25 this morning.
There's only one time I want to cross the Mojave Desert again and that's on my way back. Gee it was really hot.
Camp Parks is a pretty swell place from what I've seen so far. One thing though it's somewhat like a brig, they're
really strict out here. Well it's almost time for lights out. I'll write a longer and better letter tomorrow
Love & Kisses, Wally
Sat. September 8, 1945
I went swimming again yesterday after school with three other girls. And now I feel like a drowned rat.
We were in the water for three and a half hours.
I haven't seen your aunt (Hanna) yet, but I probably will before the day is over. She told me Friday something
-- your mother is going to the Lagrou Studio and asking about the pictures you had taken there. I guess the reason
she found out about it is because one of the pictures is in the display window.
Monday September 24, 1945
I went to the show with your cousin (Marion) yesterday. When I got home I had to take care of the kids
(her Aunt Beata's & Uncle David's) and while I was there it started to rain and thunder like mad.
That wasn't bad enough, but me, like the dope I am, turned on the "Hermit's Cave" -- tell you a secret, I was
scared stiff. Times like that is when it's nice to have a man around.
Monday October 8, 1945
I had dinner and supper at your aunt (Hanna's) house yesterday and you know how your aunt is, she keeps
filling up your plate because she is afraid you don't get enough. Boy was I stuffed. We were having a lot of fun
only I had to leave at 8:30 to take care of the kids. Everybody was telling jokes. I had a little trouble every
now and then, my German isn't so hot.
You're worried about the Tigers. So far, so good: three to two and one more game to go. Here's hoping
they make the last one and win the pennant.
We were going to call Betty's husband tonight. He told her to tell me his overalls, shoes and socks
are waiting for me to wear when I come back. They have my records. I guess they want to play them. I can
hardly wait until the Boogie Woggie ones are played. Betty will probably have fits. "Goodnight Sailor."
Saturday October 13, 1945
I received two letters from you today, one written on the 5th and the other on the 6th. The funny thing about it,
they weren't stamped until the 10th and all the other letters I received from you were stamped the day after
they were written.
Looks like the Tigers lived up to everything you've said about them. I don't know if I told you before or not,
but I used to go with a boy, Art Houtteman, who plays on the Tigers. Don't worry though, I haven't seen him since
I've gone out with you.
Art Houtteman, who pitched for the Tigers, Indians and Orioles,
died May 6, 2003, at the age of 75. He finished his major league career
with an 87-91 record with a 4.14 ERA. He was just 17 years old when he
took the mound for the first time with the Tigers in 1945. He served in
the Army's 43rd Infantry Division in 1951 and returned to the majors
with the Tigers in 1952. On April 26, 1952, Houtteman missed out on a
chance at a no-hitter when Harry Simpson of the Indians connected on a
hit with 2 outs in the ninth inning. The Tigers won the game 13-0. A
trade sent Houtteman to the Indians in 1953. In 1954, he was 15-7 for
Cleveland and pitched 2 innings in the World Series. His last year in
the major leagues came in 1957 with the Orioles, but he played on for
the minor league team in Vancouver. Following his baseball career, he
worked for Paragon Steel in Michigan. He joined the Tigers in 1999 for
the final game at Tiger Stadium. Sources: Detroit Free Press obituary,
Historic Baseball Website
see chart showing connection between Trombly & Houtteman lines
Monday October 15, 1945
Today at school for our physical education class we played a game something like baseball, only you have to kick
the ball instead of hitting it with a bat, some fun. Boy you should have seen Mary. She was on third coming in
for a run and when I say coming, I'm not kidding. She fell just about three inches from home base. I was laughing
so hard that I couldn't even help her up. She made the run, no thanks to me. I know I shouldn't have laughed, but it
was so funny.
This letter is post marked from San Francisco, CA.
Nov. 19, 1945
Well, the last letter I wrote, you received about 5 weeks ago. Sorry to not have written sooner Darling,
but we spent 31 days getting to our destination. We spent 5 days at Pearl Harbor and 6½ days in Tokyo Bay
at Yokohama. I am now on Guam where I will be stationed for quite a while. I'll be operating a truck while I'm here.
We live in tents but they're very comfortable and conditions here are a lot better than I expected.
Love & Kisses, Wally
P.S. I'm enclosing a bit of Guam.
The bit of Guam is a bunch of little flowers that Rose saved in a scrapbook.
Saturday Dec. 1, 1945
I forgot to thank you for the flowers you sent me. It's probably the closest I'll ever get to seeing any part of Guam.
I cannot complain though, at least my picture is having a free trip and that's closer than a lot of girls in the
States will get to the other side of the world.
Lots of Love, Rose
Jan. 2, 1946
I received two letters from you today, one Nov. 19 and one Dec. 26. You didn't have to apologize for not sending me
anything for Christmas, because I honestly didn't expect anything. I know it's next to impossible to buy something
on a small island. Thanks for saying that I am as pretty as the U.S.O. girls, you make me feel good.
Feb. 22, 1946
My Dearest Darling Rose,
I'm sorry about not writing enough Honey. No, I'm not driving a semi anymore. I'm helping to tear down a battleship
size floating dry dock about ½ mile from Manus Island. I've been here about a week. Manus is 2½ degrees
south of the equator or 400 miles northeast of New Guinea.
Before you begin to wonder I'll tell you why the paper is all wrinkled. It rains a lot out here and about 2 or 3
times a week the sun comes out, and when it does it's really noticeable, the average is 125F and the record so far is
138 F so it's somewhat like the devil's mansion. If everything goes right I'll see you in about 4 months.
Boy, you should have been in Biology class today. Sister was a little late for class and in the meantime two girls
were chasing the rest of the girls with worms. Honest, if you ever wanted to hear females scream, then was the time.
Friday March 28,1946
I went to the show again last night accompanied by your aunt (Hanna). The pictures were fair. On the way home ten
jeeps (army) passed with about twelve men in each, must have been going to River Rouge for night maneuvers. Every
female they saw received the well known wolf call, even your aunt. (Here mom's friend, Delphine, wrote
"even Rose, your lovey dovey" -- signed Del.)
(Letter finished on April 1.)
The streetcars and buses went on strike in Detroit today. Quite a few of the girls that live far from school weren't here.
I guess it will be the same everywhere until it's over. Boy, if it isn't one thing, it's another. You can't buy any stockings
or anything. Don't think I am complaining because I'm not. The truth is I get a big kick out of watching the females
in good old Detroit waiting in line sometimes for three or four hours just for stockings. (Your aunt has three pair and she stood
and waited for them.) It will be a long day before I wait for hours to get the darn things, you can bet you that.
Wally was discharged from the Navy in July 1946. Rosemarie received an engagement ring from him in 1948 for her
19th birthday. They were married on Rose's parents' 28th anniversary - September 7, 1949.