Royal & Doris Bruchman: "Miss You Terribly"
Wisconsin native Royal Bruchman met a local girl, Doris Solie, while studying at the La Crosse Teachers College in 1941. After he entered the service in the fall of 1942, Doris moved to Des Moines, Iowa to study for a career in radio, and later began work for radio station KSO in that city. In October 1944 Royal entered officer candidate school for the US Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia and graduated the following March with a 2nd Lieutenant commission. The two kept up a steady correspondence during the war and their relationship grew. Following are two letters written in the spring of 1945.
March 4, 1945
Another Sunday closer to our seeing each other dear – I can hardly wait. I just returned from the Post Theatre – "Tonight & Every Night" with Rita Hayworth. A pretty good show with lots of dancing and very colorful.
Dear – I hope I didn't detect a sort of – well – sarcasm directed at me on the Valentine deal. I'm sorry if I didn't mention how well I like the card because I did – I sent it to my folks so they could see it. Since [?] I've hardly had time to read my mail – I get it – stuff it in my pocket & read it out in the field when I have time so lots of time I find letters here & there in my sheepskin & combat jacket & I haven't answered the questions asked me. I guess I'm a very bad boy.
My deah girl!!! On the subject of those sex [education] sessions. You've got the wrong idea on my eyes bulging out & saying "oh that will never happen to me! I intend to remain a bachelor!" Where in the world did I give you that impression...Anyway as for me being a bachelor – when I write about you & myself after that war – Lil' Roy...is now considering marriage & scads of kids (3) – how's that for a round number. Please pass your stamp of approval on that news ---.
O.K. I'll confess! I've put it off long enough now. I've tried everything I know without avail – so I'll hafta tell you now – I wanted to make it a surprise on my furlough coming but it's impossible I guess. I'm going to get a ring (yes – a 3rd finger left hand) and I have to know your ring size. I've tried all sorts of things to figure it out but to no avail – I've put strings on all my fingers & any similar object trying to figure out your ring size so honey – hurry up & find it out & let me know as soon as you get this letter. Gosh! Am I taking it for granted! But a guy can't propose by mail & still you've got to have a size to get a ring. So girl – that's my story. How does it sound to my lil' honey in Des Moines? Of course, this letter isn't the final draft. We can talk over so many important things when I get back west. So there – too – to your ideas on me being a bachelor all my life. Now you've got to make a promise to keep mum & we'll surprise everyone in La Crosse etc. How about it – not a word to anyone.
Oh yes! It isn't final yet about the car we are going home in but I've been thinking it over on how we are going to work the furlough deal. How does this sound to you? I'll go straight home from [Chicago] & you come on the train & I'll meet you at the station in St. Paul. Then you & I can be together, go to La Crosse together & maybe Stockholm (a short time in each place, I suppose it will have to be). Then (if you can only get 4 days to a week off) I'll see you off to Des Moines from St. Paul. Spend a few more days with my parents & then come down to Des Moines & visit for a few days. I hope that agrees with you...I'd rather spend a little longer time there just prior to leaving for my next station. Let me know how you feel about it. Of course, everything depends on my next station & how much time I do get. But these tentative plans have to be made now. If there are any changes they will have to be ironed out later.
Now honey – don't wear yourself out making clothes for me to see while I'm home. Of course, I admire you so very much when you're all dressed up but I don't want [you] to work too hard in addition to your radio work...
Gee! I miss you so much dear. Every day gone means that much closer to our being together – mmm….. I can hardly wait.
Guess I'd better close now dear.
With all my dear
P.S. I may not be able to write as often but I hope you noticed how long my letters are now – you probably get as much writin' as ever but not in such small portions & numerous.
P.S. I sure wish you could be at our graduation but there'll be a stuffy old general speaking etc. & probably won't be too much.
The following letter from Doris to Royal, written a few weeks later, echos the sentiments of his letter as she looks toward the future.
Royal, Honey –
Mom and I are down at Riverside Park waiting to hear the band concert. We got here ½ hr. early, so we'd be sure to secure a choice place – and we got one right close (good English, no?) I always tote my writin' pad and pen along wherever I go, just so I can write to you in my spare time.
Gee whiz, but it was so wonderful talking to you last night. Honey, you sounded so darn good to me! I put the call in at 9:10, and an hour later they called saying they had reached the camp. I heard one guy yell, "Hey, is there a Lt. Bruchman around here?" Then he was cut off and I heard a lot of clicks. They'd call again. Then they couldn't get any response at your office or quarters, so a fellow in the next barracks was going to get in touch with you – and 40 min. later, I heard your voice. Ah – wonderful! Who told you to call me? What fellow? Thank him for me, will you? I'd love to call you every night if I could. Cause [it's] so thrilling. The first time the operator called back, I was shaking like a leaf – my knees were knocking and my heart pounding like a riveter. But after that I calmed down, and when I talked to you I wasn't nervous a bit! Gee, if I'd call you every week I'd find out when you've left for overseas, wouldn't I? Gosh –
I'm so glad I called, and even happier to find you in! Since I couldn't be there in person to wish you a happy birthday, I figured calling you was the next best thing. Of course, I'd much rather have been there to give you that kiss in person! Oh, you sounded so good! I can't get over it. That was funny – I said it wouldn't be good bye – just so long or something like that – and still, at the end, we still signed off with "good bye." Aren't we crazy though?
Tonight I began sorting through some old letters from last fall. And among others, were lots from you. I almost collapsed – how you've changed, darling! All for the better! Just wait until we can re-read them together. That will be fun. We can spend several evenings doing just that, for I've saved every letter from you.
Last night Mommy took Mike, Aunt Edythe, and myself out for dinner. We went to Cerises (Newburg's old place) but they were closed on tues., so we drove on to the New Villa. The place was jammed, and only those with reservations were making any progress, so we left the joint and went to Sam & Pete's. Um – do they have scrumptious fried chicken! We'll have to go there, honey. It's a small shack on the Mormon Coulee road, but it's clean, the food good, the service excellent, and the drinks potent. I had a snappy martini – I like 'em! Besides the chicken we had french fries, roll, salad, beverage, and a strawberry sundae. Really very tasty...More fun – we laughed all night.
Had Nancy and Mike over for dinner. I made a lush banana cream pie with whipped cream on top. Oh t'was a dream! Nanc had planned to stay all day, but John is getting a delay-en-route, so she's meeting him in Chicago tonight. Wonder if she'll marry him? Bet she returns with a ring.
Band concert begins – Mr Wartenber[?] is announcing the opening number "His Honor." [The] band sounds good! Haven't been to a band concert since last year.
Dave and I took Solie's Super Sloop out riding this afternoon. Still too cold to take a dip, so we just floated around getting a delicious sun tan. We found a sand bar – maybe it was the one we used to frequent – remember, honey? And took a roll of pictures. I'll send 'em to you as soon as they're developed.
I wish you could see Totsie, Royal. She's a doll! And I'm so happy she's taken to me the way she has. Calls me Aunt Dowis. She's so sweet! I hope we can have one like her.
They can take that horrible overture they're playing now and give it back to the composer as far as I'm concerned.
I forgot to ask you last night if you received the cigarette lighter I sent you last week? I hope so! It isn't a Ronson, but it must have been the only thing Jack could get.
Another thing I wanted to ask you was information on living conditions and expenses in Calif. When I return to S.M. I'm going to write to the radio stations around L.A. and see if I could maybe get a job out there. What do you think?
(Home – later)
Nothing more to add except that I miss you terribly and love you even more!
All my love,
[Pink lipstick kiss on page.]
Roy and Doris became engaged on St. Patrick's Day 1945, and both agreed that it was sensible to wait to marry until after the war was over. As the war raged on, Roy wrote Doris that "for two cents he would chuck all the ideas of being logical and sensible and plan for their marriage right now." Several days later Roy received her response: two cents in an envelope. Within hours Doris quit her job at KSO radio in Des Moines and took the train out to California. Three days before their wedding in late July, however, Roy received orders that he would be shipping out within ten days. A marriage on the base, with no relatives present, was followed by a short honeymoon and Roy's deployment.
Bruchman, Royal and Doris, Royal and Doris Bruchman Letters and Memoirs, 1944-1952, 1996. Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection, used with permission.