They say true love knows no boundaries, and a collection of recently discovered World War II love letters between a soldier and the apple of his eye, a beauty whom he’d never even met, certainly proves that to be true.
“Mama always said that she let him chase her, until she turned around caught him,” Jane Simmons, the wartime lovebirds’ daughter, told ABC News.
Simmons and her brother, Larry Davis, who just recently suffered a fatal stroke, always knew their parents had something extraordinarily special.
They were “very much still in love to the end,” Davis’ wife, Beverly, said of her in-laws’ 55-year marriage.
But what it took to form that bond, however, was something even more extraordinary than their love itself—a story which the soldier’s children are only just now learning.
“That was what was surprising. Mama never said anything about them,” Simmons, 63, of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, explained of the antiqued stack of 18 handwritten love letters she’s just inherited.
The letters were, for the most part, penned from her father, Teal Davis, while he was stationed in Burma in 1945, to her mother, Evangeline Poteat, a 22-year-old factory worker in North Carolina. At the time of their writing, the two had never even met. Despite being separated by oceans, miles and war however, Davis knew Poteat would someday be his bride.
"It rains pennies from heaven,” he wrote of how it feels to receive a letter from Poteat.
“I'll be looking forward to the day when I can meet you in person, but for now a letter will do,” he said in another. “Be good, have fun this summer and write soon.”
The lovestruck couple was initially “introduced” by Poteat’s roommate at Appalachian State Teachers College at the time, Sarah Kate Davis, who suggested she write to her brother, Teal, while he was deployed in Burma.
Poteat did, and the two fell hard and fast.
But apparently Teal, an Army Air Force crew chief, wasn’t the only one who found Poteat irresistible.
“She was a beautiful woman with this auburn hair,” said Beverly. “She was the real deal.”
There were two other soldiers, both young men stationed in California, who were also writing to her—one of whom was even asking for her hand in marriage.
"I know that you think that I am crazy for asking you so many times," he writes from Camp Cooke. "Did you think the ring idea is OK with you, or is it? I love you."
The other soldier, a former beau from high school, separately wrote, “We used to really have a swell time until Uncle Sam nabbed me.”
Unfortunately for them though, Teal was the one who ultimately nabbed her.
All of the men’s love stories are chronicled in a complete stack of 18 love letters that the couple’s children, Simmons and Davis, came to unexpectedly inherit, all thanks to a reporter with the local paper, The Charlotte Observer.
“It’s odd to see that, but it’s wonderful too,” Simmons said of reading the 70-year-old letters from her mother’s other admirers.
Over time, Poteat’s World War II love letters somehow ended up in Oregon and were being sold by a historical collector on Ebay when Gary Schwab, a reporter with the Charlotte Observer found them, outbid everyone to purchase them, and tracked down the relatives to ensure they were safely returned home.
“We were just shocked,” Simmons said of the unexpected discovery. “Mama was good at keeping stuff. I just really don’t know how in the world they got to Oregon.”
“We can’t figure that out,” Beverly, Davis’ wife, added. “We’d really like to know how that happened.”
The family is thrilled to have the letters in their possession now— a treasure they never even knew was missing.
“It’s a keepsake to me that I never knew I had,” said Simmons. “It just means the world to me. I miss my mom and daddy every day. It’s been quite a few years since they passed and this just brought them back.”
Beverly knows her husband felt the same way, and knows his receiving these special letters just weeks before his sudden death was one of the best gifts he could have ever gotten.
And as for their mother’s additional admirers, “She wound up with the one she was supposed to have,” said Simmons.