Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who Would Have Believed?

It was fifty-six years ago this week. Joyce and I were married on December 19, 1953 - in the middle of the last century. Who would have believed that it would have lasted so long? And be a 'happily-ever-after' story.
If anything could have gone wrong the wedding had every reason to not happen. I was stationed at Wright Patterson AFB and commuted to Detroit several times before the wedding. We went for our blood test and believe it or not I passed out in the doctor's office. That should have been Joyce's first warning. On the way from Dayton to the wedding - on a Saturday (I think) my trusty Studebaker Commander began to cough on every grade. Ever tried to find a car repair shop open on Saturday? But I did and it cost me a significant amount to replace a frozen fuel pump. We didn't have a church and a sister-in-law fixed us up with her Lutheran pastor. At the church I froze and the best man had to give me a shove to go out and join the bride. We (and her parents) survived the wedding and the reception was in the basement of one of Joyce's sisters homes - in fact, you can see the furnace and huge heating duct up over our head in the faded old reception picture above. During the reception Joyce's Dad drew me aside and asked a delicate question: "Do you have anywhere to stay tonight? Oooops - I knew I would forget something!
So Joyce's brother Jim and I went out and tracked down a motel and I never stopped to think. Jim knew where we would be and all I could think about was that we might be subjected to an old fashioned chivaree. Never happened, thank goodness.
The next day we headed out on a honeymoon, got about thirty miles out of town and realized we didn't have much money - it was either a honeymoon or the first month's rent - so we turned around and stayed with one of her aunts and I spent the Christmas holidays working with another brother-in-law installing TV antennas - in December - in Detroit - in the wintertime.
We left for Dayton around the 1st of January and found our first apartment. One bedroom with a fridge in corner of the bedroom and a hotplate in the closet and we shared a bathroom with five other couples. A bathroom in which the plumbing groaned and howled every time it was used. And a bed that had a tendency to collapse. And a landlady who asked if we were alright and for us not to knock any more plaster off her downstairs ceiling.
We lasted a month or so in Dayton and were transferred to Rantoul, Illinois, and Sacramento, California, and to Tucson, Arizona, and Niagara Falls, New York and so on and on and on.
That's not the story of our life but it's how it started. Who would have believed it would last so many years - and we would still be civil to each other? Who would have believed?

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