A Dallas woman who found an unopened World War II love letter has finally given in to her curiosity -- and opened it.
What she found inside was a quaint reminder of a bygone era, a time before lovers pitched woo via text and e-mails. "I was sure glad I got to see you that morning at church," read the note from a serviceman to a gal who had seemingly caught his eye. It was written on stationery embossed with the phrase "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me."
Sheila Polk is hoping to deliver the letter, dated 1945, to relatives of the couple, as they have both since passed away. Still unclear is whether the couple ever reconnected after that letter was mailed.
Here's the backstory. Polk told news reporters she was in a thrift store in Florida last month when she picked up a book about World War II. Tucked inside the back pages she found an envelope -- unopened and yellowed with age.
The letter was addressed in perfect penmanship: From Sgt. Albert Alm, who was stationed in Palm Springs at the time, to Helen Rothurmel, who was a member of the African American WACS unit stationed at Love Field in Dallas.
The post office tried three times to deliver the letter, according to the envelope's markings, but for some reason it never reached its destination.
Polk had been in contact with the military in an effort to find the letter's rightful heir. News of the discovery had also been making the online rounds, helping make Polk's task easier. (The Facebook page Women of World War II was among those spreading the word.)
Until this point, Polk had vowed to leave the letter unopened, saying it was not her place. But then came news that the pair had died. Fox News said it tracked down Alm's obituary, and found that he died in 2009, and had never married. Rothurmel, who married and had three kids, died in 1990.
And so Polk decided to open it. The letter offered insight into a busy serviceman's days and nights, and his struggles to settle down and connect in his new home. (Fox has the full text of the letter, so head over there to read it.)
Adding to the mystery, and perhaps the poignancy?
Rothurmel at one point lived in Lakeland, Fla. -- the area where Polk found the book. That has led Polk to surmise that perhaps she did receive the letter, and decided to leave it unopened.
The handwritten missive from the past has left Polk, and the nation, playing a game of "What if..."
"Her life could have been changed from this one letter," Polk told a Tampa Bay TV station.
She later added: "I'm sad for Albert because it seems like he really had feelings for this woman and ... he never got married. Maybe he thought, 'If I can't have her, I can't have anybody.'"
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