Gary Schwab, a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, was browsing eBay when he came across a package of 18 hand-written, WWII-era love letters. He was determined to buy them and return them to their owners or the families involved.
The story around the letters made for a beautiful love story set against the backdrop of the atrocity of war.
The heroine in our tale was Evangeline Poteat, aged 22 and working in a factory in North Carolina. She had been to the Appalachian State Teachers College and roomed with Sarah Kate Davis. Sarah suggested that Evangeline writes to her brother, Teal, who was serving in the Armed Forces as an Army Air Force crew chief and stationed in Burma.
Evangeline took up the offer and started writing to Teal. In spite of never having met, he fell in love with the auburn haired beauty and knew that he would make her his wife as soon as he could get back to American soil. He said, “It rains pennies from heaven,” when he received one of her letters.
He was looking forward to meeting her, in person, “I’ll be looking forward to the day when I can meet you in person, but for now a letter will do.” Though he wanted her to have fun, he could not resist a cautionary word, “Be good, have fun this summer and write soon.”
Surprisingly, in among the letters from Davis were a couple from other gentlemen that were clearly just as smitten with Evangeline as Davis was. Two other young soldiers, stationed in California, were also writing to her, and one went so far as to ask for her hand in marriage, “I know that you think that I am crazy for asking you so many times. Did you think the ring idea is OK with you, or is it? I love you.”
The second man, a boyfriend from school, blamed Uncle Sam for spoiling their romance, “We used to have a swell time until Uncle Sam nabbed me!”
Obviously, neither of these young men swayed her heart the way the young, Air Force crew chief did and when he was demobbed they married and remained thus for 55 years.
The couple’s children, Larry Davis and Jane Simmons, always knew that their parents shared a deep love for one another and told an interview with ABC News, “Mama always said that she let him chase her until she turned around caught him.”
They had no idea how this stack of 70-year-old letters ended up in Oregon and was offered for sale by a collector, but they are thrilled to have them back in the family.
“We were just shocked; Mama was good at keeping stuff. I just really don’t know how in the world they got to Oregon,” said Simmons of their unexpected windfall.
“It’s a keepsake to me that I never knew I had. It just means the world to me. I miss my mom and daddy every day. It’s been quite a few years since they passed and this just brought them back,” said Simmons.