Lot 234 of 576:
Letters from U.S. Sailor 1936-1941  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyer's Premium):$600
$600 - $900

Archive of several hundred letters to and from Philip F. Stueck, radioman (RM3c) in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Honolulu, San Diego and elsewhere, and at sea, covering the five years just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

Stueck, Philip F., and others

Various places




The letters are both typed and handwritten, in envelopes, with postage.

Fascinating archive of letters between Philip Stueck and his longtime girlfriend Margie Tobin, his parents, friends, etc. The correspondence ends just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, some four or five month after Stueck had left the Navy, with speculation that there might be some way he would be called back to service. The letters chronicle not only Stueck’s long service in the U.S. Navy, but his almost equally lengthy courtship of Margie Tobin, who lived in Portland, Oregon, with her parents. The correspondence ends with Stueck living with his parents in San Mateo, California, and pondering whether to accept Margie’s invitation to move to Portland, balking at the prospect of living with her parents.

A few excerpts:


  • 30 March, 1938. Aboard U.S.S. Minneapolis. To Margie: “Hello Blue Eyes. You certainly made me one happy sailor by having a letter for me in our first mail in almost three weeks… Please forgive me, Marge, if I sound too mushy but it would please me very much if I could be holding you in my arms now…”
  • 30 January 1939. At Sea – Guantanamo Bay Area.  To Margie: “…we anchored off the little French port of Gonaives on the Island of Haiti. I wasn’t able to get ashore… It was probably better for me that I did stay aboard as those who did go ashore hade quite a wild time, the worst things that I’ve heard of yet took place. Gonaives is only a small town of a few thousand population. Mostly all black, French speaking people. Nothing much of interest except of the very poor decrepit conditions that the people seem to exist under. You’re seventeen now, aren’t you Margie? Still seems quite young but your teens will soon be gone...”
  • June 7, 1940. Honolulu, T.H. To Margie: “…Yes we went into dry dock again last Tuesday and scrapped, wire brushed and gave three coats of paint to the sides and bottom all in one day. Usually we take a week to do it but there are so many ships out here now and only one dry-dock large enough to handle our size ship… The Commander in Chief put out an order that no leave will be granted back to the states, so I guess I’ll be out here for the rest of my cruise. With conditions the way they are in Europe it seems as if they are expecting something over here. I understand that we are going to replace all our target practicing ammunition with service ammunition this month but as far as we know now, all that means is that we will be ready and are standing by…”
  • July 22, 1941. Aboard U.S.S. Minneapolis. To Margie: “I’m telling you, it is getting so crowded aboard here we can hardly move, every week we get a new bunch of boots aboard.  They have installed many new lockers. Bunks all over the ship have been made four deep and they are now putting in cafeteria style… There isn’t a thing that we do throughout our daily routine that we don’t have to stand in line for.  This isn’t the navy for me anymore. I’m part of the old navy and I can’t take this new navy anymore. Oh well only 21 days to go honey – just think of it – 21 DAAAAYS. How I used to count the months, then the weeks and now the days…”
  • December 22, 1941. San Mateo, Cal. To Margie: “…Well Margie I don’t know exactly what to say in regards to your last discussion about my staying in Portland…  I am coming to Portland with the intention of finding work and staying for a while. Maybe if I find a good job and I am not called by spring, we can plan our wedding…  Marge, honey, this uncle of mine down here has been called back to the navy and is dong recruiting duty. He says that I will not be called back by the navy. As far as that goes I knew that all along that the navy cannot draft men. The only thing is that now a day, things aren’t run according to the rules. They make the rules to fit the game and I’ve been expecting them to pass a law, authorizing the navy to draft…  I don’t think I have anything to worry about for a couple of months yet anyway…”
  • And from Margie, to Strueck, Sunday Afternoon, Dec. 7, 1941. “Phil Darling… I have been listening to the news broadcast since I came home from church and I feel like one of those bombs Japan has been putting on U.S. territory has hit me. It sounds pretty bad doesn’t it Hon? Oh, what shall we do? They can’t do this to us. I hardly know what to say. If you have to go back, don’t do it without seeing me…”

Lot Amendments

Varying amounts of wear, overall in very good condition.

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