Because Mom's birthday was September 9, when I was a kid I could never remember for sure which was which. I knew the events were only a week apart, but I was always afraid I'd get it wrong. The fact that I didn't get it wrong was never due my prodigious memory. Nope, every year sometime in August, I'd cleverly ask my Dad "When's Mom's birthday again?" I never had to question the anniversary date once I was sure of Mom's birthday!
My parents were introduced to each other by one of Mom's cousins, Toots. (We have the oddest names in my mom's family!!) I think Toots had dated my dad first, but I guess the sparks didn't fly. They double-dated for Mom and Dad's first date, if I remember correctly. I don't know the date of their meeting but I would surmise that it was sometime in 1939 or 1940. They only actually dated once or twice before my dad was shipped overseas to the South Pacific. Due to one of those Catch-22 Army situations, Dad was in the South Pacific for nearly five years. (You would be discharged when you accrued enough "points". Points were earned through amount of time spent overseas (or something like that). Trouble was, they kept raising the number of points required for discharge. Anyway, the upshot of it was that Dad was out of the country until after V-J Day in 1945.
During those five years my Mom and Dad corresponded with letters through the mail. It wasn't like the V-Mail system that was used for the war in Europe (where they were limited to one page that could be put on film and then re-printed upon arrival.) These were regular letters. Mom still had a couple and there were words, phrases, and whole paragraphs cut out by the censors!
Despite the censors and the difficulty of mail deliveries to the ever-changing location of the troops, enough of the letters must have gotten through, because that's how they got to know each other. Somewhere during those five years, Dad proposed and Mom accepted, but they had to wait
until the War was over. It was a long time to wait, but they kept on writing and sure enough, as soon as his discharge came through, Dad came back to Chicago (all in one piece and uninjured.)
It was just a couple of weeks after that they eloped to Minneapolis, on the train. I don't really think it was an elopement in the strictest sense of the word. There was no secrecy. At a time when a big wedding seemed like a lot to go through and money was kind of tight, they decided they would have a small wedding trip instead. At least that's how I remember the story. Anyway, off to Minneapolis/St. Paul they went and they were married on September 15 by a Justice of the Peace.
As I recall there is one black and white photo from the "Wedding Day". Mom was wearing a dark suit with a light colored blouse and she wore a dark hat that had a bunch of flowers perched on the brim. Now I haven't seen this photo for probably 25 years or more (Little Sis has all the family photos), but I'm pretty sure Dad wore a medium colored pin-striped suit with a white shirt and patterned, wide tie. He had glasses and a thin mustache! He kept that mustache for a couple of years, but when it disappeared, it never returned! I was always glad he didn't keep it, I don't think it suited him at all!
Anyway, I don't know how long they stayed in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I think it was only a day or two and they they came back to Chicago.
I was born 9 months and 15 minutes later! LOL! No really! June 25, 1946 is my birth date and Mom always said I was a little LATE! So you do the math!! (teehee)
Like any marriage, they had their ups and downs. They didn't really know each other very well when they married. After all, they had only a couple of dates and five years' worth of censored letters. Not much to build on. But they made a life and home together for both my sister and I. They were separated for a little over a year when I was 17, but they got back together.
Dad's health had started to deteriorate when he was around 50 or so. He had several strokes and a couple of heart attacks. Partly due to the worry about his health, the Big Guy and I decided to throw them a surprise anniversary party for their 30th Anniversary.
We invited all the old friends they had known years and years ago including my Godfather (who was Dad's best friend forever) and my Mom's cousin, the aforementioned, Toots (not like "hoots", more like "puts".) Several of my aunts and uncles were there too, as well as 17 year old Little Sis and 9 year old Ratchlet. Altogether we had about 30 people. It was a little tight, but no one cared!
It was a huge success! My folks were genuinely surprised, you might even say flabbergasted! Mom and especially Dad were thrilled and happy to see all their old friends. There were tears and happy smiles, hugs, lots of laughter, and lots of catching up. It was a wonderful night! You can tell from this photo that it was a happy night! It was probably the best thing I ever did for my Mom and Dad.
|Daddy and his girls!|
Three years later Dad was gone. Mom lived on for another 28 years or so. But that night was the best celebration they ever had and the memory of that night, and their marriage has stayed with me ever since. Every September 15 I am reminded of my parents and how much I loved them and miss them so!
I was thinking of you, Mom and Dad, on this your "Wedding Day."