Tag Archives: sweetheart

Mail Call

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post office 1946

Good news!

“First class letter mail sent by members of the U.S. Military or Naval forces on active duty shall be transmitted free of postage anywhere in the U.S. mail service. This includes ordinary letters and post cards, but excludes air mail and packages or parcels. Inscribe letters thus: upper left corner – “John Doe, Seaman second class, U.S. Navy”; upper right corner – “Free.” This privilege does not apply to any matter sent to members of forces by persons not members thereof. Free franking privileges have been granted service men. Now our only excuse for not writing will be consideration for the censors and our inability to spell.”

Tarheel, April 4, 1942

“We received the U.S. Mail aboard today. A total of 52 regulation mail sacks full of 1st class postage. I don’t think, of all the possible reaction a man can go through, that there are many that can compare with the disillusionment and chagrin that comes from not receiving a letter. Especially a letter that has been patiently await for more than two and half months. Yes, it has been that long since we received our last mail, July 4th. I did get one letter from Mother and also one from Rosemary. Both were dated August 7th.”

-Arthur Hahn, Storekeeper 3/c, September 12, 1942

“Nothing could boost the morale as much as mail call. It kept homesickness to a minimum. During the early days of the Pacific war mail was less frequent because of the distance and secret location of a given ship or base. During the second year of the war it was not uncommon to receive ship’s mail two or three or more times each week.”

-Leo Drake, Fire Controlman 1/c

Mail Call

“Early in the war mail was very, very slow. Always sporadic. Usually a whole bunch would arrive at once. The bugler would sound the call and everyone got excited. Since there was usually an awful lot at once mail call would be sounded more than once until all had been distributed. One division member had the duty to fetch the mail and pass it out.”

-Larry Resen, Fire Controlman 1/c

“I had been assigned the mail sentry detail. In other words in the wardroom the officers would open the mail when you’d write a letter home. You would just put it in an envelope and drop it into a box where the officers would glance over it and cut out anything there that may hurt the security of the ship. [He] could mark it out where it could not be readable…then he could put it back into the envelope and mail it to the party. This would be signed over to the seamen who would sign for it and pass it through the machine and seal it up. They’d drop it in a bag and carry it down to the post office. One nice thing about the tankers coming alongside you’d usually know that you were going to have a mail call. Even though at that time I didn’t get much mail I was always glad to get a letter from my grandma or aunt.”

-Ollie Claude Goad, Seaman 1/c

Mail bag delivery

“Lack of consideration by many men in failure to write to parents and close relatives for long periods of time is causing needless work for the Navy Department in handling correspondence from the inquiring parents or relatives. The government and the Navy have both made if as easy as possible to carry on normal correspondence. Parents and other close relatives have the right to occasionally hear from men on board this ship when we are in forward areas. Disciplinary action will be taken in all cases where inquiries are received on board as to the reasons letters have not been received by parents and close relatives and where a good reason is not given for such action.”

-Commander J.W. Stryker, Executive Officer, May 1944

Love Story: Jean & Paul Wieser

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Jean and Paul Wieser

Jean Coddington and Paul Wieser grew up in the town of Linden, New Jersey, in a neighborhood where the only thing that separated their two houses was a picket fence. Although Jean and Paul had the opportunity to go on a couple of dates before Paul joined the Navy in 1941, it was the exchange of letters that fostered their relationship and love.

When NORTH CAROLINA came to Pearl Harbor for repairs, Paul made a trip to the store on base to purchase Jean’s engagement and wedding rings. Since two more years would pass before Paul would get to see Jean, he sent the two rings to his older brother and asked him to propose to Jean in his place.

In August of 1944, NORTH CAROLINA docked in Bremerton, Washington. There she would stay for 60 days. After two long years of being apart, this short break gave Paul the chance to be reunited with his sweetheart. On Saturday, August 16, 1944, Paul and Jean were joined in marriage at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Linden, New Jersey.

The newlyweds then took off for their honeymoon in New York City. After a three-night stay at the Hotel Imperial, the couple headed out for Washington. Jean and Paul were able to spend another 30 days together before NORTH CAROLINA returned to the South Pacific. When the ship left, Jean returned home. She lived with her mother until Paul was discharged from the Navy in December 1946.

Jean passed away in 1957 and Paul followed in 2006. The Battleship’s collection includes the letters that Paul wrote Jean everyday during the war.

Love and Romance

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During World War II, the number of marriages increased dramatically. With much of the male population pressed into the war effort, a sense of urgency dominated many young people’s lives. The real possibility of death encouraged couples to go ahead and “tie the knot” as soon as the opportunity arose. The “rush to the altar” became typical of the age, with estimates reaching over 1,000 brides a day in the first months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. By the end of the 1940’s, proportionately more women were married than any other time in the century.

The USS NORTH CAROLINA was no exception. Many members of the crew were married during the war, especially in 1944, during the Ship’s first trip home after a two-year tour of duty in the South Pacific. The crewmembers and their wives you will meet in these stories represent a small sample of the crew that were married during the war years. Their stories share much similarity.

With the United States’ decision to join the war, thousands of young men left home shortly after reaching dating age. Separated for months or even years at a time, most couples did not have a chance to develop serious relationships through the traditional means of dating. Therefore, the bonds of intimacy were created through the exchange of countless letters. In some cases, even the marriage proposal and engagement ring came through the mail! Their love was sealed through marriage at the first chance, for it may have been the last time that the two ever saw each other again. Fortunately for all the couples here, they were happily reunited at the war’s end.

Tay and Edward Cope, Electrician’s Mate First Class

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“I met my husband, Edward, when I was eight years old and in third grade. Ted was ten and in fifth grade. For me, it was love at first sight. I don’t think Ted noticed me, although we lived on neighboring streets, until later on in that year when we had our school picnic in June. I ran down a long hill and to my surprise, he caught me at the bottom and kissed me. My first kiss!”

In spite of the kiss, the couple did not start dating until 1940. Engaged in May 1942, they planned a June wedding. But NORTH CAROLINA left in June for the Pacific fleet. Their June wedding was postponed for over twenty-seven months!

On August 5, 1944, Tay Cope had returned from a voice lesson in New York City and called her mother for a ride home from the Trenton Railroad Station. “She informed me that ‘my Ted’ was home and on his way to see me, that day. When he walked into my home, it was one of the most wonderful days of my life.”

Tay and Ted Cope married on August 9, 1944, at 9 a.m. on the lawn of Tay’s parish church. Tay traveled with Ted to Bremerton, Washington, where the ship was being overhauled. After the ship left, Tay returned home to await Ted’s homecoming.

Carol and Joe Mikitka, Metalsmith First Class

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While in Brooklyn, New York, on Thanksgiving Day, Joe accidentally bumped into a young lady on the corner of Clinton and Loraine Streets. Sparks flew! For the remainder of his leave, Joe and Carol Mikitka enjoyed several dates. The two corresponded faithfully over the next three years.

On May 3, 1943, a package from Hawaii arrived for Carol containing an engagement ring with a note asking, “Will you marry me?” The couple wed on August 13, 1944, at the Dutch Reform Church of Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York. Carol’s father, a Seabee in the Navy, could not get leave. He left without permission (AWOL) to give the bride away.

After the wedding, the Mikitkas boarded a train to Bremerton, Washington, where NORTH CAROLINA continued her stay in port for another five weeks. Carol stayed with Joe in Bremerton until the ship departed. This was the first time away from home for 18-year-old Carol. When Joe left, Carol returned home and waited for Joe’s return in July 1945.

Norma and Stanley Sheveland, Firecontrolman Third Class

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Norma Peterson and Stan Sheveland both grew up in the town of Clarkfield, Minnesota, where their paths crossed at Clarkfield High School. Norma started high school in the fall of 1939 where Stan was working part time as a hall monitor to earn extra money for his education. Norma recalls distinctly, “I had my eye on him from the beginning.”

Norma graduated from high school in 1943 and began working as the “ration girl” selling gasoline ration stamps to farmers in western Minnesota. While Norma and Stan both ate at the same restaurant daily, but it took a horror movie to bring them together. “One evening I went to a show in town there and happened to sit alongside him. It turned out to be kind of a scary show, so we started holding hands. I saw him the next noon again at lunch and he had enjoyed the idea and we became better acquainted and started having dates.”

Stan left for boot camp right after Christmas in early 1944. He was assigned to the NORTH CAROLINA in May 1944. Through newspapers and radio, Norma kept informed of the latest developments in the war. They also kept in touch by writing letters, which Norma received almost daily.

When NORTH CAROLINA docked in Bremerton, Washington, Stan returned to Clarkfield and proposed to Norma on September 1, 1944. After the war, the couple was married on November 18, 1945 and honeymooned in Minneapolis.