My parents met in 1946.
Dad had been honorably discharged from the Navy and returned to his hometown. Young and restless after having seen the horrors of the Pacific in WWII and more of the world than he had ever imagined, he was living with his parents, his grandmother, three of his aunts and his two younger brothers in a cramped house. He was ready to be on his own!
Mom had recently left the family farm and had moved in with her married sister and her family to be near the shoe factory where she had found employment. Factory work wasn’t easy but it was easier than life on the farm, caring for a widowed father and an invalid brother. She was ready to be on her own!
On that fateful day in August, Mom was walking home from her job at Brown Shoe Factory with a co-worker named Wayne. Dad was tooling around town in his car and spotted Wayne, who was an old school freind, walking with a pretty young girl. Dad pulled over and asked Wayne if he and his girlfriend would like a ride. Wayne’s response: “Sure George, but she’s not my girlfriend.”
And off they went with Mom in the front seat between Dad and Wayne. Dad, ever the sly one, dropped buddy Wayne off first so he could be alone with Mom. Mom remembers hugging the passenger door and leaning as far away from ‘The Stranger’ as possible. She thought he was handsome and friendly but maybe too friendly. She was releaved to be safely dropped at her sister’s door.
Before driving away Dad asked Mom out – that night. There was a VJ (Victory over Japan) Day dance that evening and he was a returning Vet and she would make him so happy if she would be his date. She thanked him for the ride home but gave him the “brush off” by telling him that she was busy.
Dad, never one to take no an answer, went home, cleaned up and put on his best suit and showed up at Aunt Loretta and Uncle Les’ door to pick up his date in time for the big dance. When Mom realized he was there she ran upstairs and asked her sister to lie and say she wasn’t there. But Aunt Loretta must have seen something in Dad that Mom hadn’t seen, in her haste to get away from him earlier that day, or perhaps she just wanted Mom out of her house.
So Aunt Loretta yelled up the steps, “Dot, your date’s here!” And the rest is history.
That was 70 years ago and Mom and Dad are still in love and just recently celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary.
We lost Aunt Loretta a few years ago but I can still hear her laugh and say, “You can thank me! If I hadn’t opened that door back in August 1946, none of you would kids be here today!”
And so it is…