Walter in Navy uniform

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.

Love, Wally

post card of Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois, 1945

Friday June 8, 1945

Hi Sailor,
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 is 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.

Love, Rose

June 14, 1945

Dear Wally,
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. "Goodnight."
Love, Rose

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.

Rose, Wally's Best Girl Photo

June 22,1945

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."
Love, Wally

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 character.

From Camp Endicotte, Davisville, Rhode Island, (Seabee Training Camp)
July 24, 1945

Hello Darling,
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."
Love, Wally

Thursday August 8, 1945

Hi Seabee,
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.
Love, Rose

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

Dear Wally,
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.
Love, Rose

Thursday August 23, 1945

Hi Sailor,
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.
Love, Rose

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 Honey.
Love & Kisses, Wally

Sat. September 8, 1945

Dear Wally,
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.
Love Rose

Wally in Navy whites

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.
Love, Rose

Monday October 8, 1945

Dear Wally,
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."
Love, Rose

Saturday October 13, 1945

Dear Wally,
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.
Love, Rose

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 and photo of one of his baseball cards

Monday October 15, 1945

Dear Wally,
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.
Love, Rose

This letter is post marked from San Francisco, CA.
Nov. 19, 1945

Hello Sweetheart,
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

Dear Wally,
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

Rosie sitting on porch ledge in 1946 photo

Jan. 2, 1946

Hi Sailor,
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.
Love, Rose

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.
Love, Wally

Not Dated

Dear Wally,
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.
Goodnight Seabee.
Love, Rose

Friday March 28,1946

Dear Wally,
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.
Goodnight Honey.

Rosie and Wally dancing at their wedding reception

Wally was discharged from the Navy in July 1946. Rosemarie received an engagement ring from him in 1948 on her 19th birthday. They were married on Rose's parents' 28th anniversary - September 7, 1949.