Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

Postwar Life: 1945-1953


Returning Home

      Sergeant Earl Reinhalter arrived home at 4408 Frederick Avenue on November 21, 1945, the day before Thanksgiving. According to his sister Yvonne, the family knew he was coming, and everyone gathered in the living room and kitchen to await his arrival. She thinks that he likely took the #8 Irvington streetcar home. As he walked in and saw a full house, he joked, “Anybody home?”

      Yvonne recalled that he must have arrived in the evening, around 7:30 p.m., because they all sat down to eat. But photos of him in his uniform after the war, in front of the family home, were taken in daylight. So possibly he arrived earlier, or the photos were taken the following day. (Sunset on November 21, 1945, was at 4:48 p.m.) During the meal, Yvonne remembered staring at him because he looked so different than before he left home.


      Earl resumed living in the back bedroom and returned to his job at the Glenn L. Martin aircraft plant in Middle River, eventually making it up to the position of “ground crew engineer.” He qualified for his pilot’s license, bought a plane with a friend of his, and flew a lot.

      He also resumed his other favorite pastime, roller skating. Yvonne said he was a wonderful skater, “very light on his feet.” She said he once took her for a “couple skate” and he was very good.

      There was one early girlfriend, name forgotten. But she had a nickname that everyone called her behind her back, “eh-eh” - meaning nah, forget it. That was her typical reaction whenever they asked her to participate in some activity, such as roller skating.


      It was at a roller rink in Essex, with “eh-eh” no longer in the picture, that Earl met his future wife, Loretta Joanna Antczak (February 8, 1931 - April 30, 2012). Coincidentally, Earl’s sister Kitty also met her future husband at a roller rink.

      Loretta’s parents were Michael Walter Antczak (August 16, 1903 - June 23, 1992), a mechanic with the city bus system, and the former Theresa Kosinski (1907 - December 17, 1960). She was apparently named after an aunt, one of her father’s sisters. Loretta grew up in Fells Point, a neighborhood near Baltimore’s inner harbor, home to many Polish immigrants. As a child, she lamented that the adults often spoke Polish with each other, but would not teach their children the language. They apparently enjoyed being able to discuss grown-up matters in front of the kids. By the time she met Earl, Loretta’s parents had split up and she was living with her mother, who worked at Crown Cork and Seal. Loretta had two older siblings and a younger half-brother from her mother’s subsequent marriage, which had also ended in divorce. She had had to quit high school to help care for her little brother.

Loretta in December 1946   As a teenager, Loretta attended Saint Stanislaus
Kostka Roman Catholic Church.

      Yvonne said that when Earl and Loretta first started dating, for a long time she wouldn’t allow him to take her home because she was embarrassed that she lived in such poor circumstances. And when she first came to the Reinhalter house for dinner, she was so nervous that she got her hair caught in her corn, and Yvonne felt sorry for her.

      A few of Loretta’s early letters to Earl survive, and the text is included here. The siblings that she mentions are:

  • Michael Joseph Antczak (“Mike”) (September 11, 1928 - October 13, 2013) He had joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 and made it a career.
  • Marcella Antczak (December 7, 1929 - July 1966) She was a rebellious teen, having run away from home several times starting at age 14, once making it as far as Arizona. At the time of the first letter, she was at Montrose School for Girls, a reform school in Reisterstown, Maryland, about 23 miles northwest of the Antczak home. Six years earlier, she had been celebrating her 12th birthday when news came over the radio about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II.
  • William Herman Howell (“Billy”) (1943 - ?) Loretta’s young half-brother. Little is known about Billy’s father, and the fate of Billy himself is unknown.

Mike   Marcella   Billy

At the time of her first letter, Loretta is only 16 years old. Earl is 25.

June 23, 1947

Dear Earl,

      I hope you aren’t too surprised to get this letter. We never seem to be able to say anything over the phone so I decided to write you a letter. Please don’t mind the writing.

      I really did have a swell time yesterday. I woke up this morning and thought of the things that we did and it made me feel real good. I finished all my work very quickly and felt cheerful all day long.

      What do you think of that bill being passed by the Senate? I myself, am sorry to see it made a law. [On this day, the Taft-Hartley Act, which restricts the activities of labor unions, became law. - Ed.]

      My mother call[ed] up the superintendent of my sister’s school but all she said was that she would let us know when Marcella could come home. I don’t think she’ll be able to come home this week though.

      A man on the radio just finished singing “For Sentimental Reasons” hillbilly style. [Probably referring to the 1946 Nat King Cole hit “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons,” not the similarly titled “For Sentimental Reasons” that was recorded by Tommy Dorsey in 1936. It is unclear who may have sung the song “hillbilly style.” All known recordings at that time were by jazz or big band singers. Perhaps it was a one-time radio performance that was never released as a record. - Ed.] It sounded rather nice. I was on the radio once. My mother made me get off though. She said I scratched it up to[o] much. (chuckle, chuckle)

      You can come down Wednesday [June 25th? - Ed.] night if you want to. But you can still call me up, too, if you want to. Maybe by then we can both think of something to say. O.K.?

      I dug my Poems up out of the stacks of junk that I’ve got and read them over. They still seem as corny as ever. If I remember to, I’ll show them to you when you come down Wednesday.

      My mother took my brother [Billy, then only four or five years old - Ed.] outside today. I had to wash the dishes tonight and after I finish this letter, I am going to wash my hair. It is rather dirty because I haven’t washed it since about 10 days ago.

      Did you miss me? I missed you.

      Did your mother say anything to you about your receiving a letter in green ink on pink stationary? I hope no one teased you to[o] much.

      Well I guess I’ll be signing off now as I’m running out of paper. I’ll see you Wednesday. Goodnight. Pleasant dreams.

P.S. There is a concert coming on the radio now. Say hello to “Evon.”
[Jokingly referring to Earl’s little sister Yvonne, who had just turned twelve. - Ed.]

Loretta and Billy in 1947.

June 30, 1947

Dearest Earl,

      My sister and I are going skating Tuesday night. Do you think that you will be able to go? Do you think you can get Pete to go to[o]? I told Marcella about him and she is very anxious to meet him. [Marcella eventually married a guy named Arthur, so Pete didn’t work out. - Ed.] She wants to meet you too. She says that she can’t skate but I think that she’ll do O.K. After all I didn’t think I could skate either but I can at least stand up on my own feet. Of course once in a while I fall down but then who doesn’t? [Six years later, Loretta fell down while roller skating and broke her arm. - Ed.]

      We are supposed to go up-town today and see if my sister can’t get a job at the company where I work. [Loretta was a PBX operator. - Ed.] I’m going to take Billy up to my department and show him off.

      Mike was down the house yesterday. He said that he’ll be down for sure next Sunday and he wants me to bring that girl down again. [It was through Loretta that her brother Mike met his future wife, the former Doris Marie Sommers (1932-2010). She was also a PBX operator. Perhaps that is who Loretta is talking about? - Ed.] We had a lot of fun with him last night. He was singing Phil Harris’s songs. [His 1947 hit was “Woodman, Spare That Tree.” - Ed.]

      Right now the radio is playing “Limehouse Blues.” It sounds like a good piece to do the bounce step on skates. [In the 1946 film Ziegfield Follies, Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer danced to this popular British standard. - Ed.]

      Have you decided when you’re going to take me out to your house to meet your family? Do they know that I am taller than you? Is Yvonne over her poison oak yet? Tell her she better make it go away so she can take her piano lessons. By the way what grade is she in music?

      They are playing a piece by Chopin on the radio now. It’s beautiful. Can Yvonne play any pieces by Chopin? Say hello to her and your mother for me. O.K.? And say hello to yourself to[o]. And on second thought you had better not because your mother might think your [sic] losing your mind if you start talking to yourself.

      Do you know that my mother expects me to get married in a year or so? [Ironically, when Loretta did get married sixteen months later, her mother disapproved, saying that she was too young. - Ed.] I mentioned something to her about getting a pair of skates for myself [instead of renting at the rink? - Ed.] and she asked me what would I do with a pair of skates when I would probably get married in a year or so. Do I look like I’m the marrying type? I must be because that’s all people talk about when they’re around me is what kind of boy will I marry and when I’m going to get married and all of that kind of stuff. My mother even said she expects me to be a grandmother. Imagine!

      Well I guess I’ll be signing off for now so I’ll see you Tuesday night [July 1st? - Ed.]. Behave yourself.

P.S. Try to see if you can bring Pete with you.

  Loretta and Earl in 1947.

In this letter, some of the ink has faded away, apparently from water damage. These passages are filled in here, based on context. A few gaps (ellipses) remain where the wording could not be guessed.

July 14, 1947

Dear Earl,

      My mother is wo[rking?]…… I might work this week so I won’t be able to go out Thursday. If you want you can come here any time this week and I’ll try to teach you how to dance. [According to his sister Yvonne, Earl was never a dancer. He just liked to skate. - Ed.] O.K.? Call me up first …….. before you do come down.

      Did you get those copies from the negatives yet?

      Pete is supposed to call Marcella up tonight to see if she can go out tomorrow …… She wants to go swimming with him so whether they’ll go or not I don’t know yet.

      It was really sweltering hot today. [The temperature in Baltimore that day reached 92°F (33°C). - Ed.] I could hardly stand it in work today. As soon as I got home I pinned my hair up on my head. (You and your long hair!) The back of my neck felt like I had a wet face rag on it. It was really wet. And I have to do ironing tonight to[o]. Right now I’m thinking of how nice a glass of ice tea would be but I feel to[o] lazy to even get up and make a glass of it.

      Now that you have your license do you think you’ll be able to take me for a ride in the seaplane? Have you done any flying yet this week besides what you did Sunday? When do you think you’ll take your land plane test? [Although Earl had been around planes for years, and even knew the rudiments of piloting one, he had not previously been able to get a license to fly because of a heart condition from a childhood illness. - Ed.] Will it be harder than the seaplane test?

      Don’t forget to say hello to your mother and your sisters for me.

      I feel far from comfortable …….. and so I think I’ll take a bath and start ironing (how I dread it) so I’ll be signing off now so behave yourself and be a good little boy. As always.

LA [Loretta Antczak - Ed.]


Loretta and Earl at Essex Seaplane Base on Back River in Essex, Maryland, 1947.

February 17, 1948

My Dearest Earl,

      I suppose you will be surprised to hear from me but I had some free time during working hours so I thought that I would write you a letter.

      First of all let me tell you that I love you with all my heart. I can never put into proper words how I feel about you. Do you remember how, on a sudden impulse, I went down the Seaplane Base and then you came down? [She is talking about Essex Seaplane Base. According to Essex (Images of America) by Jackie Nickel: “The seaplane base had one ramp, a pier, and floating docks. The site is now known as Riverside Marine.” - Ed.] I had a feeling that you would be there but I thought that perhaps you would fly over. Instead, you surprised me and came in person. I couldn’t have had a more delightful surprise! I felt so happy when I saw you that I thought I would burst. That’s the way I feel about you all the time only this time it was even more so. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t expected to see you until at night. By the way have I told you I love you?

      Today is such a lovely day. [The temperature reached 62°F (17°C), which is quite warm for February in Baltimore. - Ed.] It makes me feel so alive and free. Even though we will have many more cold days, I feel as if spring were really on the way. I think you will get your wish for spring in another month or so.

      Well the time is really flying so I will write you more at lunchtime. If I could only tell you how much I really love you.

      Here I am again to tell you once again that I love you.

      I’ve been so busy all day long that the time really seems to fly by. At one time I looked at the clock it was 11:05 and it seemed like only a few minutes after that it was 11:45. That’s one reason that I like my job so well. Even though it is hard, you have to concentrate so much that you haven’t got time to think of how slow a day is going.

      I was telling my instructor about you taking me flying and she said that she would be scared to death to go in an airplane. I told her about the dips too, and about “There goes Earl.”

      By the way, I’m eating some of your favourite candy right now (cream mints). Have one?

      You must think I’m very silly (which I am) for rambling on like this. (Oh well, they have places for people like me.)

      Some woman from this company brought her baby boy in to show him to everybody. (The poor thing.) Everybody was looking & touching & petting so much he cried half the time that he was here. I’m glad that I’m not a new born baby. I still have to go through: “My, you’ve grown big.” & “She looks just like her mother.” & “No, I think she has her father’s eyes.” But, at least I can excuse myself politely? and walk away which is more than a baby can do.

      I’m glad that spring is coming so that maybe we can fly in that open seaplane. I can hardly wait! As you know, I’ve never flown in an open plane and I imagine I have quite an experience waiting for me. (There goes Earl!) I think you once mentioned that you preferred the open plane, too. Maybe I can take some better pictures from there beings we won’t have to fly so high or have any doors closed. Gee whiz! I’m getting all excited just thinking about it!

      Well, I only have a few min. left so I will be signing off. I don’t (There goes Earl!) know whether you know it yet but, I love you sweetheart. So long & be good, and no flirting, please.

With all my love,
[Apparently meaning Loretta Antczak loves Earl Reinhalter. - Ed.]

Loretta and Earl in 1948.

March 1948

My Dearest Earl,

      Here I am again sweetheart but this time to say Happy Easter; and also to tell you that I love you. [Easter was on March 28th that year. - Ed.]

      I was just thinking today of how very lucky I am to have you and how lucky I am too, that you love me. In case I never told you before, I love you very much Mr. Reinhalter.

      Are you still thinking of becoming an airplane mechanic? If you are going to be one, have you ever thought of all the dirty overalls that I’m going to have to keep clean for you?

      I hope you get the first fiddle fixed. [Apparently he has joked that she is “second fiddle” to his airplane, so she calls the plane “first fiddle.” - Ed.] I want to see her fly. That is if you are as good a mechanic as I think you are she’ll fly. I hope we have a lot of nice weather this year. Then we can go flying a lot, and maybe you can get a lot of seaplane flying experience.

      And also if we have a lot of nice weather, I can get some good pictures of you. You’re going to be sorry that you didn’t have your picture taken for my birthday [February 8th - Ed.] because I’m going to pester you to death with snapshots until I get a real, real good one. I have some good ones now but I want to get a close-up of you and your airplane if I can. [While there are many photos of Earl posing with airplanes of various kinds, unfortunately none can be found of him with a seaplane. - Ed.] If it turns out good I can have it enlarged so I can put it on my bureau. Guess what. I love you. I bet I love you more than you will ever love me because I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to love anyone more than I love you.

      What are you going to name your model airplane? Why not “First Fiddle”? [As a hobby, Earl built and flew gas-powered model airplanes. In the days before radio control (“RC”) planes, navigation was managed by U-control. As described in Wikipedia: “Normally the model is flown in a circle and controlled by a pilot in the center holding a handle connected to two thin steel wires. The wires connect through the inboard wing tip of the plane to a mechanism that translates the handle movement to the aircraft elevator, allowing maneuvers to be performed along the aircraft pitch axis. The pilot will turn to follow the model going round, the convention being anti-clockwise for upright level flight.” - Ed.]

      If you think of it, would you lend me that magazine with the story about a woman who has a flyer for a husband? [The April 1948 issue of Flying magazine included an amusing article by Janice Futch entitled “My Husband’s a Pilot, the Jerk.” It can be read online at Google Books. The story begins on page 18. - Ed.] It might help me a bit.

      I’m reading the part of the Aeronautics Book on Theory of Flight and it’s very interesting. I’m learning more every day. Maybe in about 10 years I’ll finish the whole set of books. “Someday.” [She is possibly referring to the Theory of Flight by Richard von Mises, which was published by McGraw-Hill in 1945. It is considered a classic, and reprint editions are still available. - Ed.]

      I don’t know why but it seems hard to write this letter because it’s the same things that we talk about every day. Anyway I like to tell you over & over again that I love you and only you. The only chance of me falling in love with someone else is if another you came along and I don’t think that will ever happen so you don’t have anything to worry about. I am sometimes afraid that you’ll fall in love with someone else. Because of the difference in our ages you might start to think I’m to[o] young for you or that I’m childish or something like that. It is possible you know. I hope it never happens though. I hope I’ll be able to please you and make you as happy as you have made me if that’s possible.

      I guess I’ll sign off now as it is getting late. So remember, you’ll always be the one I love.

Love, as always,
(Second Fiddle)

P.S. I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you I love you I love you
I love you I love you I love you
I love you I love you I love you


Earl and one of his model airplanes.
Notice the engine in front.


      Earl and Loretta were married on October 30, 1948. Photos show that it was not a church wedding. According to Yvonne, Loretta’s mother objected to the marriage because Loretta was underage. So they married at her father’s house, 324 Taylor Avenue, Essex, Maryland. (The house that stands at this address now was built in 1999, so it is not the same structure in which my parents were married.)

      Knowing that my mother had suffered a miscarriage early in the marriage, I once asked Yvonne if my parents “had” to get married. No, she said, my mother was a virgin when she got married, and was nervous about the wedding night.

Early Marriage

      Loretta moved in with Earl at the family home on Frederick Avenue.

Loretta and Earl in summer of 1949.   Earl and the car, June 1949.

Across the street, at a playground behind Mount Saint Joseph High School, was a plaque which
honored the local men who served in World War II. Earl’s name can be seen in the
cropped close-up (middle photo). These photos are from 1949.

      It soon developed that Loretta was unhappy living at Frederick Avenue. She and Earl’s mother did not get along. The letter below puts forth her case. His reply follows.

June 13, 1949

In a plain envelope addressed:

      To my husband;


My Dearest Earl,

      You think I am being selfish just because I want everything for just us two. You think that I am the only one to benefit from the things I want.

      When we were married I began to think in terms of “us.” You just kept right on thinking as you always had. Even when I became pregnant you refused to even try to offer me and our child any future security by obtaining this house for your own so that if you were killed, we would always have a home. You thought of the future in terms of 10 & 20 years but how about a year or two from now? Suppose you would be killed while I was pregnant? About all you would have to offer your widow & your son would be an insurance policy to cover your funeral expenses and that’s all. How would I be able to take care of him and give him a decent education? What security could I offer him? Would you want me to pay someone to stay with him in order to earn our living hoping that I could send him to college?

      Everything you have ever asked of me, I have tried to give you. I have put a bank account in our name so that if anything should happen to me there would be no doubt as to who would get the money. I’ve kept my hair long because you liked it, even though in summer it is almost unbearable. I try to wear clothes that will please you. I’ve done my work at home whenever I could so that I could go with you when you wanted me to. And I’ve tried to bear your child and even though I failed, I am willing to try again for you. [Her first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage. - Ed.]

      You have brought me here and you have asked me to stay here for you. Yet, when your family starts a quarrel with me you never take up for me. You even go so far as to say that I am to blame and that I shouldn’t take up for myself. You never once have figured that they are the ones who start the quarrels. You have never gone to them and asked them what their complaints are at a time when they are all calmed down and you could make out what they were complaining about so that the faults could be corrected. Instead, everyone says forget about it. But no one ever really does and the same thing happens over and over again and no one ever really knows what it’s all about. A quarrel can be a good thing if it’s [sic] purpose is brought out and a compromise is made.

      You say that you have been a good husband because you are faithful and you don’t go out and get drunk but as far as that’s concerned you never have. You know that you wouldn’t enjoy it; that it would be definite grounds for divorce; and that it would also disgrace your family.

      As far as your family is concerned I am not to be treated as your wife. I am just an outsider who is causing trouble. You know as well as I that it is not my choice to stay here. The only reason I am staying is because my husband has asked me to and because the only way he will have me is with all the comforts of home. You aren’t willing to make a few sacrifices for your wife and whatever family we might have.

      All my life I have lived in a broken home. I have never had any security. Now that I am married I still don’t feel secure and I can see no future security for my children. That is all I want out of marriage, Earl, Love, Security and Fairness.

      Even though you have hurt me many times you have never said you were sorry. Remember, it takes two to make a quarrel & whenever we do have one, we are both to blame no matter which one of us starts it. You know that as well as I do.

      You say you don’t like to be treated like a child and the same goes for me. At home I at least was treated on an equal basis with everyone else. Now that I come here they treat me like a child. They think I’m not old enough to be married. They tell me to “behave” myself when I haven’t done a thing. I am just as fed up with being treated that way as you are.

      Beings I am married to you, I want to be treated as your wife by you and your family. Either you are for me as a husband should be, or else I don’t see any reason for going on.

      There is no reason why one mate should give up all and the other give up nothing. You still have everything that you want; yet you demand that I stand by you and get pushed around by your family whenever they feel like starting something and you don’t even show your thanks for my loyalty by taking up for me.

      From the way your family acts, they don’t even blame you for marrying me and bringing me here; they blame me for being here as if it were my choice to live here.

      Marriage means sacrifices but you refuse to make your share. Living here you have everything because it belongs to you. I have nothing. Just about everything I use in this house is someone else’s. You can do as you please when you please. I have to arrange with several people before I can do anything.

      You say you don’t like to see me sad but you have never really done anything to make me happy. Marriage isn’t only fifty-fifty. It’s all the way for both parties concerned; but you refuse to budge an inch toward my side. You’re afraid to even say your [sic] sorry because you think that if you do you’ll become henpecked. You know as well as I that I hate any man who lets his wife henpeck him. It is one thing to consider your wife’s feelings and another to let her make you give into her all the time. Ask yourself if this isn’t true.

      Once again I am saying that all I want is your love, fairness, and security for me and my children. I am willing to save and work and sacrifice for our future but unless you will agree to this also, I shall cease to be your wife. If you are willing to do this for your mother and your family why can’t you do it for your wife and your children who should stand in front of your mind above everything else? If you can give your mother what she asks, why is it so hard to give your wife the very same things?

      Unless you can come to me and say you are sorry that you have hurt me and that you will try to be fair with me from now on then I shall seek a divorce as I see no reason for living a half marriage.

Your wife,

June 13, 1949 [his reply]


      In reading your letter of June 13, 1949, questions come to my mind. They are as follows:

      Did you marry me for love or for the house that stands at 4408 Frederick Ave.? Since when has a husband been required to provide additional security (i.e., a house in this case) for his wife when she becomes pregnant? Do you think that you are different from any other bride in that you can make such demands? Naturally, I cannot guarantee that I will not be killed during your period of pregnancy or, likewise, any period of time thereafter. Incidentally, my insurance covers more than just my funeral expenses. [According to his sister Yvonne, his life insurance had a double indemnity clause, which meant that twice the normal amount would be paid out if the death was the result of an accident. - Ed.] I know that you will be happy to know this. Also, if we should happen to have a child (and that at present seems very remote), I cannot assure you that I can give he/she [sic] a college education. That, my dear, depends on our financial status and my earning power at that particular time. True, you did put your bank account in our names. I think that you rightfully should have done this seeing that my salary covers living costs for both of us - excluding clothes. If it makes you any happier, cut your hair - at least I will still be able to remember it when it was pretty. Don’t try to be dramatic by telling me that you are willing to bear a child just for me. You always wanted children (so you led me to believe) when you were married - and not conditionally that I be your husband in such case. You say that whenever you had a quarrel with members of my family I always took up for them and that I always blame you. Nothing could be further from the truth. I won’t go into details here. You say that a quarrel can be a good thing if its purpose is brought out and a compromise is made. That all of the quarrels must have been “good things.” I can give details upon request. You seam [sic] to think that the reason that I don’t run around, get drunk, and am generally [not] “a good for nothing” is because it would disgrace my family. Believe it or not, I have principals [sic] even if I don’t go to Catholic church - or any other church.

      If you continue to act like an “outsider,” as you did and still do, you will continue to be treated as such. It’s too bad that we of the Reinhalter family do not meet your approval. It would make you very happy to leave this house and for you and I to live elsewhere. You call this a sacrifice on my part. I always look before I leap. Just what would happen to my parents and family? [Apparently, he was continuing to help support the family. - Ed.] Yes I know, you just do not care. Do you? Well, I do! Furthermore, what would happen to us? At the present I am faced with a salary reduction and a possible layoff. Remember? Yes, it’s true that you work. But could you continue to do this all through pregnancy, childbirth, and thereafter - if this occasion should ever occur again? Yes, Loretta, it takes two to make a quarrel, but, am I to stand as a deaf mute, helpless, and listen to your constant “fault finding” without so much a[s] batting an eyelash? Only a spineless jellyfish could be expected to do so. I cannot and will not. My family does not push you around, Loretta. Just how you acquired this “persecution complex” is a mystery to me. Maybe you had it before we were married. I don’t know. You state that I should show thanks for your loyalty to me by taking up for you in any and all “quarreling” with my parents & family. Now then, just wouldn’t that be nice. Yes sir, right or wrong, Loretta is always right - so says Loretta. My family does not blame you for being here; but it wonders at the seamingly [sic] lack of friendliness and cooperation on your part. You always seam [sic] to be mad about something - real or imaginary, most of the time I cannot tell. “What’s wrong with Loretta?” is a standard question here where we live. And, seventy-five percent of the time I have to shrug my shoulders (meaning “I don’t know”).

      You say that in living here I have everything and that you have nothing. Just what is it in this house that belongs to someone that you want? Do stores still handle such merchandise? After all, I should be able to buy a duplicate of everything in this house - if that’s what it takes to make you happy.

      So! I have never done anything to make you happy. Are you just being carried away with anger while writing your letter; or, is your memory short. And, I mean very very short. It must be one or the other as I don’t think you to be such a liar. Incidentally, I don’t tell people that I am sorry about something until I have done something to be sorry about. Furthermore, I have not, I do not, and I will not in the future give in to your whims if I think that you are wrong just for the sole purpose of keeping from injuring your feelings.

      Finally, you say that all you want is my love, fairness, and security for you and my children which we may have. You have my love however strained that it might be at the present. I have always tried to be fair. Just because you do not get your own way you probably think that I am not. As far as security is concerned I can give you no more just now than you already have. You picked the wrong guy if you thought that I had money.

      So, in conclusion, if you think that you can do better for yourself elsewhere - with someone other than me possibly, I will not attempt to keep you from it. You may seek a divorce freely. I will not contest it. More power to you. Good luck.


A Place of Their Own

      The young couple got over this rocky start to their marriage and rented an apartment at 220 South Augusta Avenue, which was in the same neighborhood.


Loretta at Augusta Avenue in 1952 and still frames of that address from a 1990 video.

      Earl and Loretta eventually moved to 212 Helena Road, Middleborough, in Essex. The move to this area, which was another sixteen miles to the east, was perhaps because of its proximity to his workplace and Eastern Airport, where Earl did much of his flying.


212 Helena Road
Eastern Airport in Essex, Maryland

Jim Snyder (left) and Earl, with the Globe Swift plane that they co-owned.
(More on Photos page.)

“Little Earl”

      At 5:58 p.m. on Wednesday, August 16, 1950, a son, Earl Reinhalter Jr., was born at Saint Agnes Hospital, same place where Earl Sr. was born. England’s Queen Elizabeth II had been pregnant with Princess Anne at the same time, so there was speculation that the two births might occur on the same day. But Princess Anne was born 35 hours earlier, on the morning of August 15th. August 16th also happened to be Loretta’s father’s birthday.

      The original Saint Agnes Hospital has since been torn down and replaced with a modern complex. The site of the old hospital, where “Little Earl” was born (and where Earl Sr.’s father died in 1958), is now a parking lot.


      On June 27, 1953, Earl Reinhalter took his last airplane flight. He was riding along with his friend William Bowen in a plane that Bowen had just bought when the aircraft developed engine trouble and plunged to the ground.

I have placed the Baltimore American news article about this event on a separate page in order to block search indexing of that content, as requested by the copyright owner (Hearst Communications, Inc.).

      Yvonne said said that when the engine started to sputter at 300 feet, Bowen turned left instead of climbing, as he should have done, so the plane lost momentum and nosedived into the ground. Bowen was in the rear seat and got thrown out. My father was trapped in the front seat. Yvonne suggested that he possibly was unable to loosen his seatbelt.

      In a 1985 phone call with his mother, she said, “They couldn’t do a thing, they couldn’t control it because it was, I don’t what it is failed, something entirely failed, and they couldn’t guide it, they couldn’t steer it, and so they just crashed… They almost hit somebody’s house… His body was just burned to pieces, but the other fellow lived. But he was so badly marked up that they hardly knew who he was. He lived, but I guess he’d rather have died, the way he looked after the crash.”

      A small item about the crash in The Morning Herald, Hagerstown, Maryland, said that Bowen had “first, second and third degree burns of the body.”

      His mother said, “We had seen him the Sunday before. It was Father’s Day, the 21st of June. And the following Saturday, the 27th, is when it happened. It was a terrible thing for all of us because it happened so suddenly.”

      Yvonne last saw him at her birthday party on June 9th, when she turned 18.

      For me, one of my earliest memories was of walking away from Eastern Airport on a dirt road with my mother, who was sobbing. As we reached the main road, we got into a black car, which I now realize was probably a police car.

      Incidentally, the model of the airplane is in doubt. The Baltimore American news article said the craft was a Fairchild “22.” That model was an open cockpit monoplane. However, as a child I recall the family saying that it was biplane. In recent years, Yvonne described the plane as a Fairchild 38, but there does not seem to have ever been such a model. Also, the Wikipedia article about Fairchild says that the company only made two biplanes, designated as the Fairchild 21 and the Fairchild KR-34. Finally, his mother kept the death certificate and news clipping in a large brown envelope which had several notes written on the front, among them “open cockpit Fairchild ’37.”

Obituary from the Baltimore Sun, June 29, 1953.

      Earl was buried at Baltimore National Cemetery, 5501 Frederick Avenue. According to family lore, whenever someone visited his grave, a plane would pass overhead.

Aftermath: The Family Carries On


The Kindle book includes Earl Reinhalter’s World War II letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


This page established: October 8, 2020             Last updated: February 22, 2023

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