A Tribute to My 45th Wedding Anniversary
In the Beginning
As a tribute to my 45th Wedding Anniversary (Jan. 29, 2012) I decided to step into the way back machine and set the dial for the summer of 1963 - the year I first met my husband.
Looking at that summer, a 15 year old girl from Queens met a 19 year old boy from the country. It wasn't an unintentional meeting. Actually at the time the girl was spending her first full summer in the country. The girl, Mary (me), was not happy about it at first. Her father had been born in this little town in Ulster County and they had always spent vacations there but two weeks was not two full months! Now her father had bought a summer house and Mary, her mother, her grandmother, and her little brother were to spend the entire summer in this little country town. To a city girl with lots of friends this was not her idea of fun, it was more like torture.
Luckily at the beginning of the summer she attended a little church bazaar with her family and met one of the local boys. She wasn't to find out until later he was one of the most well-liked boys in the town. Actually he was the 'class clown' of this small town, but it was a good thing because he introduced her to so many people that in no time at all she had quite a circle of friends. Things were looking up, maybe this wouldn't be a boring summer after all.
One day, walking home for dinner, she saw a black car with this really good looking guy driving. Hmm, that was interesting she thought so the next day she walked home at the same time and saw the same black car with the same really good looking guy drive by again. She thought this was truly worth investigating. She soon found out the black car was a 1958 Chevy Impala and the really good looking guy was named Larry. He had several brothers one of whom was married. One of her so called friends said he wasn't sure if it was Larry or his brother that was married. Fortunately it turned out it was his brother. Larry was a Troy Donahue look-a-like. (For those of you who are too young to have ever heard of Troy Donahue, he was an actor with blond hair, blue eyes and a totally sexy way about him. Larry was like that too!)
So Mary made sure she walked home everyday at 4:30 to see that black Chevy and good looking Larry. After about two weeks of this she figured it was time to meet this guy. She asked one of her friends if he knew this Larry and could introduce them. He laughed and said, "yeah I suppose, especially since he asked me the same thing." Her teenage heart went pitter pat. A few days later the introduction took place. (He was as good looking close up as he was driving in his car.) He asked her if she'd like to go for a ride in that nice black Chevy. (Be still my heart and don't make a fool out of yourself was all she could think.) They drove around for a while making small talk and he finally asked her if she would like to go to the movies with him. She had to take a deep breath before answering because she didn't want to sound overeager!
The First Date
They were going on their first real date to the movies. She would never forget the movie, "The Nutty Professor" with Jerry Lewis. She wasn't particularly thrilled with the movie but she was particularly thrilled to be there with Larry! They "hung out" the next week and then he asked her if she would like to attend his friend's wedding with him. Now she knew she was on the inside track! A wedding guest! Whoa this was big stuff. Fortunately she had brought a really nice dress she could wear to the wedding. Although this wasn't their first date because it was such a big deal she thought of it as a milestone in their relationship. (Remember, she's 15!) Not only that but she got to meet all of his friends...remember he's four years older so his friends are older too. She's just a high school student and Larry and his friends are all out of high school and working full time jobs! Not to worry, Mary made friends with Larry's friends too, not so much the girls but the boys.
As with all good things, summer came to a close. It seemed like a blink of the eye and Labor Day arrived signalling the end of summer. Mary was to go back to the city and Larry was to stay in the country. Funny, when Mary left the city to come to the country she cried because she thought her life was over, now returning to the city she cried because she thought her life was over! There were no choices here, she had to leave and leaving the country meant leaving Larry. They were only teenagers and life was not under their control. So, she headed back to the city leaving Larry in the country.
A Growing Relationship
It's obvious this relationship didn't end (or I wouldn't be celebrating 45 years!). It wasn't always easy. The trip between that country home and the city was only a two and a half hour drive but with me being in school and him working it might as well have been an eight hour drive. The first winter apart was interesting. Though my heart was with him my life wasn't and I was after all only 15. I sent him letters that he didn't answer so I thought perhaps the summer was really over. I started to date other guys but my heart just wasn't in it. I decided to write and tell him how I felt and what I was doing. He wrote back immediately and asked if I wanted to "go steady." Of course, I thought, why else would I be writing this letter in the first place! So now we were really an item despite the distance between us.
Our second summer together was wonderful. It was the summer of '64 and I was now 16 and he was now 20. We spent every moment together that we possibly could. We knew now that we were in love. I had to finish school, which was never in doubt. We talked about what our future could be like but enjoyed the present. Things were heating up in Vietnam with US troops doubling and tripling in the early sixties. I had many friends who enlisted and was very concerned about my Larry. He told me not to worry, they'd never find him up in the country and we put it out of our heads.
We went everywhere together and did everything...drive in movies, swimming, boating, eating, partying...we even discussed religion and what kind of family we hoped to have...it was glorious. I got to know his family better and he got to know mine. No matter how much in love you are and how much you want time to stop, it doesn't. So, before we knew it it was Labor Day again and time for me to return to the city. This winter was different though. He called me and even drove down to visit a few times. I managed to get friends to drive me to the country to visit him once or twice too and convinced my father he needed to get away more so we could "go upstate." We were getting closer and closer despite the distance between our homes.
That winter was going much faster and I was so happy, but it wasn't meant to be easy for us. In late April Larry called to tell me Uncle Sam had found him. He was drafted and leaving for Fort Dix, New Jersey in May. Talk about things closing in on you, I thought the world was ending. It wasn't just the separation but the fear. I had already attended the funeral of a close friend who was killed in Viet Nam and couldn't bear the thought of something happening to Larry! I can't even begin to describe how I felt during that time. it was without a doubt the worst time of my life. I prayed God wouldn't take him away from me.
For brevity's sake I have left out all the little things he said and did that warmed my heart and made me laugh. The times he'd put his hand on my leg while he was driving and I'd quiver at his touch. The country charms and habits we couldn't do in the city, like driving down a deserted country road in the moonlight and turning off the headlights to let the moon guide our way. I can't write about all these things and more because there isn't enough space.
Americans tend to get married more between June and October than during the rest of the year.
In 2005, August had the most marriages at about 235,000 or a rate of 9.3 per 1,000 people.
The previous year, July was the highest month at 246,000, or a rate of 9.9; this doubled the lowest month in 2004, January.
The Courtship and Wedding
While he was in basic training at Fort Dix I got my father to drive me down for a quick visit. It was so good to see him and he looked sooo good in his uniform! In the summer of 65 he finished basic training and came home on leave. Of course I was there. We went for a ride and he parked the car on the side of a lake and asked me to marry him. I said yes before a heart could even beat! So, I was 17 and he was 21 and we were engaged to be married! We planned to marry in August of 67.
The Viet Nam War wasn't letting up. He drove to my house in the city from Fort Dix and said he had orders to go to Germany. We cried and held each other and said good-bye. Two nights later he was back, this time he said his orders were for the Canal Zone - Panama Canal. We cried again and said good-bye and this time he did go to the Canal Zone. He was there for a total of 18 months. I wrote to him every day and he wrote back frequently ( most men don't usually do letters very well). He came home on leave in October of 66 and we decided we didn't want to wait until August to get married so we were married January 29, 1967. He was granted a short leave to come home and get married.
Our wedding day was a beautiful sunny day. Our honeymoon was brief and we spent it at Niagara Falls, but that's another story. When it was time for him to return to Panama, a blizzard hit NYC and he had to stay another three days.
That was 45 years ago and I have never regretted our decision to marry in January or any other time. We have had wonderful years together. Like most folks we've had good times and bad times but we always had each other. This tribute is to my lover, my friend and my husband of 45 years...I love you.