Carroll County Times

A love story that began on New Year's Eve, 1945 [Eagle Archives]

Much of the time, history can be the dry stuff of names and facts or memorized dates found in textbooks. Nothing can bring history alive more than our own memories or growing up listening to the recollections of our parents or grandparents.

This year marks 70 years since the end of World War II, a time during which many endured the depravities of war overseas or supported the effort stateside.


Much of that dreary and difficult day-to-day support took place just down the road in Washington D.C. In his book, "Washington Goes to War," journalist David Brinkley wrote that Washington, "a sleepy, old-style Southern town … [came] alive … with personality, with drama and comedy…" during the war."

The National Women's History Museum reports, "More than a million women, many of them young and single, came to Washington D.C… "


Among those who answered the nation's call to service were Bertha and Joseph Sosnowsky, who, in time, would call Carroll County their adopted home for almost seven decades.

Bertha was born Oct. 9, 1918, in Two Harbors, Minn. She was the daughter of Finnish immigrants. Joseph was born Jan. 5, 1919, in Chester, Pa. His mother came from the Ukraine and his father came from Poland.

After the war, Joseph Sosnowsky worked for many years for the Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge.

Recently, their sons, John and Joe Sosnowsky, and their granddaughter, Jessica Tomcsik, told a part of the Sosnowskys' life-long romance.

During the war, Joseph served in the Army and was assigned to Washington. Bertha worked for the Department of Transportation.

Their story of a life together began one New Year's Eve, in 1944. By fate, both attended a "barn dance" at Turner's Arena off 14th Street, according to their granddaughter. Their first dance was to Doris Day's "Sentimental Journey," a song that would become an anthem for those returning home from the war. There followed a long courtship. Bertha and Joseph were married right after the war in 1946, Tomcsik said.

"This story truly represents love at first sight," she said. "They were married and lived 68 happy years together. On Jan. 22, 2015, they would have celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary."

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans reports, "Approximately every three minutes a memory of World War II …disappears."


Bertha, 96, died at the Carroll Lutheran Village on Dec. 10. Her husband died three days later.

Their son, Joe, said, "I thought of the verse from the book, Song of Songs 8:6: 'Love is as strong as death.' But with the coming of Jesus and the witness of my parents, I know that this is not quite true. The truth is that 'Love is stronger than death.' Even death could not keep them apart for long."