Mysteries of the Old Photo Album (part2): Love Letters From Mary

I poured over the scrapbook of memories found at the flea market. The pages fragile, worn, breaking to the touch. So many pictures of Peter Cherney in his sailor uniform. He was proud of his service you can tell. And then there were the letters. All those letters from Mary.

Today I took a closer look at those envelopes and the postmark: one letter was mailed from Los Angeles in October 1943. That stamp. Three cents. A proud American eagle on the stamp with the slogan “Win The War.” I have a feeling Peter was working to make that happen.

How his mementos and photos and long lost love letters from Mary ended up in the bargain bin of a flea market I don’t know. Maybe people just never took the time to look at every page and every envelope.

All I know is I’m holding letters more than 75 years old. They smell of history and the worn paper they were written on in perfect cursive.

As I hope someone reading this continues to share the posts, as I hope we can reunite someone in Peter and Mary’s family with these treasures, I thought the best way to show you just what I stumbled on, was to transcribe one of Mary’s letters.

So here it is, dated October 11, 1943, Mary writing to the sailor she loved:

“Dearest Pete, received two letters from you today. Still laughing over that corny joke about the Lone Ranger. A few minutes after I read your letter, my brother called up. He’ll probably look you up before this letter reaches you.

Honey, my sister Tony gave me five dollars to send to you. But I used it. (Hope you don’t mind). In case she or anyone else asks you, tell them you received it. You could write my sister a letter thanking her for the birthday gift. You can write it to this address and I can give it to her.

Sunday I took Pepe (on that five) to the baseball game (leading men and comedians) at Wrigley Field. I bought popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs and soda pops for him and myself. Then I took him to a show and dinner. I spent quite a bit of money on him and myself. But because I wouldn’t buy him a coke he called me stingy. I got so angry I almost slugged him. Yet in a way it was kind of cute.

Today, after I went to the nursery after him, we were walking toward the R Car line. Two little girls waved to Pepe. He wouldn’t wave back. I asked him why he didn’t want to wave to them. He said if he waved to them they would be his girl friends and he didn’t want that. I told him they wouldn’t be, that they would be his pals instead. He smiled and said Oh. What a son we’re raising. (One for the books).

I’m writing this letter to you instead of ironing. I’m making this good and long. I hope you appreciate it. Honey this Friday I’m going to be initiated into the union. You should hear everybody teasing me about what color (unknown) I’m going to write. Well I’ll tell you about it when it’s over. I hope you and my brother can come home together this weekend. Well honey, till next time, love Mary.”

With that, her letter was neatly folded in the air mail envelope and sent off to San Francisco in October of 1943. Pete, I know you got the letter because at some point you carefully folded up that envelope. You carefully put it with your prized photos in an album. And you held onto it for years.

You held onto it for years along with cards, and that tattered piece of cloth from Pearl Harbor. I’m sorry these correspondences ended up in a flea market somewhere. It just doesn’t seem right.

So far, we’ve traced you to LA and Indiana. We think you passed away years ago. So did Mary. But your memories and your life live on in these mementos.

Here’s hoping we can reunite them with Peter and Mary’s family.

Pete Wilgoren





About Pete Wilgoren

Author of Dadmissions. Pete Wilgoren is an Emmy winning journalist, blogger, and author writing about parenthood, life, and other stuff
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