In this era of text messages, emails and Snapchats, the idea of receiving love letters seems hard to imagine. But Lloyd and Marian Michael, a couple who just celebrated their 70th anniversary in December, had saved hundreds of them exchanged during their courtship and Lloyd's deployment in Europe during World War II.
"We even have letters here that I would send in college," Lloyd told the Daily Bulletin, a southern California newspaper. "We first started dating in 1941" and were married on New Year's Eve in 1942.
So imagine the elderly couple's horror and dismay when those love letters were stolen from them 40 years ago. The letters (some bearing air mail's familiar red and blue stripes; others post cards) were put in cardboard boxes and stored in a steamer trunk with a large lock, "[so] our kids couldn't get into it," Lloyd said as Marian chuckles. The trunk, which also held wartime paraphernalia and other personal momentos, was stored in a shed on the Rancho Cucamonga couple's property -- a shed that was broken into in 1972.
"[Someone] cleaned out everything that was in there," he said.
But in November of last year, the couple received an unexpected call, they told the paper. A former vet (who was not involved in the 1972 robbery) said he had the love letters, and had tracked them back to the Michaels using Lloyd's service number.
"It was a hell of a surprise," Lloyd told the Daily Bulletin. "He said there are a hell of a lot of Lloyd Michaels in the service. You're the only one that has a wife named Marian."
The Good Samaritan lived an hour away. They met up at an In-N-Out Burger to exchange the long-lost letters, which Marian had sent to her husband every day. Each letter, many written while Lloyd was deployed in England, is a testament to the couple's enduring romance and a snapshot of wartime love.
"Dear, I was in London the other day," she reads aloud, "it's really quite a place. I saw the Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey... Big Ben, the House of Parliament and other interesting places. I also see the bombed out areas. Maybe someday we can come together and see all these wonderful places."
(The couple eventually did in 1982, 40 years after they were married.)
The Michaels, with the boxes of love letters sitting in their laps, can hardly believe their good luck.
"They came home where they belong," Lloyd said with a slight nod.
Marian sighs and shakes her head in agreement, noting that "it's a miracle."
To read more about the Michael's wartime love story, visit the Daily Bulletin.
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