Earl Philip Reinhalter Sr. (April 8, 1922 - June 27, 1953)
My father, who wrote these letters. Born eight days before Easter. He was given the name Earl because his mother liked the sound of the name; the middle name was likely from his father. (According to an obituary in The Newton Graphic, January 10, 1919, there was another Earl Reinhalter, from Massachusetts, who died while serving with the U.S. Army in France just after World War I. There does not appear to be any direct family connection.) Born and raised in Baltimore, he graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (“Poly”), a public high school with an emphasis on a technical curriculum. Before and after the war, he worked at the Glenn L. Martin aircraft plant in Middle River, Maryland. Despite his passion for airplanes, he was not cleared to fly before the war because of a medical condition from childhood, pneumonia at age nine, which affected his heart. Nonetheless, he managed to attain rudimentary flight skills by the time he had enlisted. I once asked his sister Yvonne why he didn’t enlist in the army until nearly a year after Pearl Harbor. She thought he remained at his job in order to help support the family financially. Additionally, in a 1985 phone call with his mother, she pointed out that at the time of his enlistment he was underage, not yet 21, and his parents had to sign for him.
Philip Jacob Reinhalter (“Phil”) (May 6, 1887 - August 5, 1958)
Son of Nicholas Michael Reinhalter (March 26, 1852 - November 26, 1912) and the former Margaret [or Marguerite] Mary Zipp (November 5, 1859 - August 8, 1903). His family had come from a part of France along the German border which has sometimes been under German control, as it was from 1870 to 1919. As a result, genealogical sources may disagree about whether any given family member was born in France or Germany. His first wife, the former Marie E. Barsalou (spelled Barslow in some records), died in early 1920 due to the worldwide influenza pandemic, leaving behind a young daughter, Phyllis. He was a blacksmith, specializing in working on tools that were used for engraving stone. His birth record listed his father’s profession as “stonecutter,” so perhaps he learned the trade from one of his father’s associates. He was a heavy drinker, which made it hard for him to hold down a job. The rest of the family sometimes had to pitch in to keep afloat financially.
Catherine Evelyn Reinhalter (February 11, 1900 - April 26, 1985)
Daughter of John J. Oster (February 29, 1872 - October 25, 1947) and the former Catharine [also spelled Catherine, Katherine, Katharine or Catharina] Louise Schultz (1875-1950). Her father’s family had come to the United States from Germany when he was one or two years old. She was born Eva Catherine Oster, but by the time of her high school graduation she was signing her name “E. Catherine Oster” because she did not like the name Eva. In that day there was some kind of scandal attached to it, perhaps on account of vaudeville singer Eva Tanguay, who sang suggestive songs and had a personal life to match. Catherine knew Phil’s family socially, and she would get together with him to play music, as people used to do in the days before television and radio. She played the piano and he joined in on violin. After Phil’s wife died, they started making a different kind of music together. She was pregnant with my father at the time of her marriage to Phil. She was an excellent typist, and during the war took a part-time clerical job at Atlantic Coast Freight Line, working 8:00 p.m. until midnight and coming home on the bus at that late hour.
Phyllis Marie Reinhalter (“Phus”) (September 4, 1913 - March 25, 1998)
Phil’s daughter from his previous marriage, she was my father’s half-sister. She was possibly named after her father; middle name from her mother. Age 29 as the letters began, she worked as a secretary for Frederick Pembroke Chelton, who owned a company of some sort. She is always mentioned in the letters by her nickname “Phus” (pronounced like “fuss”).
Catherine Christine Reinhalter (“Kitty”) (May 5, 1923 - August 8, 2012)
Age 19 as the letters began. She and my father were only a year apart in age, so they were quite close. The family had five generations of Catherines. In the next generation, it was one of Yvonne’s daughters (who was called “Cathy”).
Yvonne Cecille Reinhalter (June 9, 1935 - August 21, 2019)
Only age 7 as the letters began, she was part of the daily household as her older sisters held down jobs, so she was frequently mentioned in the letters. She was named after two of the famed Dionne quintuplets, who were born a year before: Yvonne and Cécile (different spelling).
Frederick Allen Roussey (“Fred”) (April 7, 1921 - April 15, 1988)
Fred Roussey (rhymes with “now see”) and my father went to high school together and they both worked at Glenn L. Martin before and after the war. They corresponded throughout the war, and my father often mentioned Fred in letters home. (Unfortunately, none of their letters survive.)
John Melvin Hutchins (May 30, 1922 - August 12, 2000)
Another Baltimore friend, he served in the same squadron as my father. His family lived just a few blocks away from the Reinhalter household.
Audrey Montreir Grove Roussey (“Mrs. Roussey”) (March 10, 1899 - November 7, 1996)
Fred Roussey’s mother. She also wrote to my father during the war.
Other friends and family are identified in notes as their names appear in the letters.
Fellow soldiers were usually not named in the letters, since the folks back home would not recognize who he was talking about. However, soldier names were frequently mentioned in the Squadron Pulse newsletters, and those names have been compiled into a Roster.