Read from letters that offer a glimpse into the hopeful and contagious love of Walter and Lucie Rosen to last a lifetime.
Recently, Collection and Archives Assistant Samantha Perkins delved into Walter and Lucie Rosen’s letters from an especially romantic period of their lives, the time of their brief six-week engagement in 1914. Samantha, our newest addition to the Rosen House team, has fully transcribed the group of documents, finding them both delightful and insightful. There’s nothing like messages exchanged between two people newly in love, thrilled to have found each other and full of plans for a future together.
Here we see one of Walter’s letters to Lucie during this period:
July 31st 
64 WEST FIFTY-SECOND STREET
Your voice sounded so clear over the Telephone and has such a happy ring this morning that it put the greatest amount of cheer into me. Since I talked with you yesterday matters had taken a most critical turn in the world, and I have had my hands full attending to the immeasurable questions which always come up in a time of strain. I’ve stayed in town last night and mother came in to dine with us. Today the Stock Exchange was closed which prevented a great panic that was imminent and we are all now expectantly awaiting cable news from abroad, which may mean peace or war. In the face of these great emotions which are swaying the world I realize what a blessing has come to me through you my darling, and I know that you shall my thoughts and preoccupations and will always help me in times of stress or ease. I am so glad your flowers were beautiful-I wanted them to be the messages of my love, and sharing them days when I cannot be with you.
These flowers which may come to you, will always bring you my kisses and admiration. I was most touched by the letter and the gift of the servants at St. Anne and by you to tell each of them how much I share with you in appreciating their wishes and their gift. I will preserve the letter for you. Jeanne is sailing to-morrow on the Provence, her husband had wanted also to come but unfortunately his military duties prevent his leaving France at present, but he absolutely wanted that Jeanne should come to be with us on our wedding day. I show you letters received by me last evening from Jeanne and Ernest which reflect their joy-please return them to me. I had a nice visit yesterday with your aunt who said many charming things about and is most quite reconciled to you marrying a man whom you clearly do not know sufficiently-not at all! So all is lovely because you are lovely and the most lovable creature on this earth, and August 11th [originally planned for August 11, the wedding took place even earlier, on August 6] is a day nearer every day, and I kiss you.
Lucie responded the next day:
Aug 1, 1914
ISLE ST. GILLES,
STE. ANNE DE BELLEVUE.
My most dearest-
Your precious letters helped me in my pain to-night-and it will be all finished when you get this, so you must not feel sorry, because you are a comfort. And to write you with the little pencil you gave me is a comfort. How lovely of Jeanne and your Mamma and Felix and all-to give me such a welcome! I return you the letters of Jeanne and Ernst-I was so glad to read them. My precious, you are a in a grave world to-day, I do feel how much it affects you, I have imagined that (quite outside of you and me) you could not be easy leaving New York this week. My precious, I am glad you are there, to give confidence to other people, just as you give it to me. My precious, even when you may think you can do nothing, just your being there is a help. And I who love you so, am so proud to see how bravely you care for all who depend on you.
Just this minute new flowers have come, long stemmed roses O my dear-how good of you! God bless you and tell you how I love you-
For Samantha, these letters, just two of many, reveal more than the fairy-tale love Walter and Lucie Rosen had for each other. As they were falling in love in 1914, the world around them was falling into crisis. The letters show two people who were not only concerned about each other’s happiness and their upcoming wedding, but also worried about the looming war and its implications.
Working in finance, Walter experienced the New York Stock Exchange closure on July 31, 1914, as he and his colleagues waited anxiously to hear the announcement of war or peace in Europe. Ultimately, this would be the start of a four-month closure, the longest suspension of the NYSE in history in order to protect American financial institutions from a run triggered by United States debts owed to Europe. In the days leading up to their wedding, Walter was occupied with cables, conferences, and long-distance talks with Washington. Walter’s sister Jeanne was prevented from coming from Paris for the wedding as originally planned when the French government requisitioned the ship La Provence, upon which she was scheduled to sail, and converted it into a naval vessel.
Despite the looming feeling of uncertainty, it was Walter and Lucie’s love that gave each other hope. Walter, contrary to the impression one might take from his business correspondence, poured out his love, devotion, and gratitude for her. He even references with humor what must have been a fear in Lucie’s family, that she did not know Walter well owing to their short courtship. She, likewise in her letters, gave her fiancé support and strength through her own empathy and encouragement. She is proud of Walter for staying in New York a little longer so he can help, offering him the confidence that, “even when you may think you can do nothing, just your being there is a help.”
As witnessed in this exchange of letters, the mutual understanding of each other’s feelings and circumstances, as well as the respect for each other’s responsibilities and tastes they demonstrated ignited a hopeful and contagious love that would last a lifetime, expanding to include family, friends, art, and music that continues to burn at Caramoor today.
We thank Samantha Perkins and Jessa Krick of the Rosen House team for their work on this group of letters. We couldn’t think of a better example from the archives of Walter & Lucie Rosen to share with readers this Valentine’s Day.
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