It was a Friday, I think about 6 p.m. Linda thinks it was a little later in the day, but we’re not sure. They gathered at the Flint Hill Baptist Church; his mom and dad were there, as were hers, and the Baptist minister, and the minister’s wife. When the short service was over, and the bride had been kissed, they walked out to his new used car, where some friends had tied tin cans to the bumper. Cars had distinct chromed bumpers back then.
They had met about a year and a half before, on a double date. Actually, it was the fall of 1962. They were each with somebody else. The week following that date, he called her and asked her out. She wanted to go, but her mom would not allow it. Her mother said that the two boys on the date had made some kind of a bet, and she would not allow her daughter to go out with that other boy.
I’m not sure how the persistent young man prevailed, but somehow he did, and the next week they went out. And, as they say, the rest is history.
It was not quite that simple, of course. The grainy black and white photo shows the smiling couple cutting a cake in the dining room of her mom and dad’s home on Crest Hill Farm, where her dad was the farm manager. After that short family gathering, they went to their new apartment in Arlington. They lived there for 10 years. The rent was $90 a month, including utilities. She was soon able to get a job with the federal government; he was already employed with another federal agency.
After 10 years, they moved to a little cape cod in North Arlington. Three years later a son was born, and they moved to a larger house in Oakton. A year and a half later, a daughter was born. She was tiny and premature, but she was a fighter. Every night she was in the hospital, one of them stayed and slept on the linoleum floor in the nursery. That’s just what you did, back then.
After their first child was born, she never returned to work. It was tough, but it was what they both wanted. They wanted their children to be raised, as they had been, by their mother, in their own home. It was even tougher because he was still working full time, and going to college at night. But they were nothing if not persistent. He had reached a point in his working life where further advancements were difficult, if not impossible, without a college degree.
At one point, when things seemed to be moving slow or not at all, he quit his government job and went to school full time, working afternoons and evenings at service stations and doing light mechanical work. Then the money ran out, and he had to go back to work full time, with another government agency.
Throughout it all, they were partners. They both did things they enjoyed. She traveled to Russia with some friends, there was a vacation in Hawaii, and he had his drag racing and hunting and fishing and music. And always, they both had some kind of garden. Usually, she had her flowers and he had his vegetables. Fifty years is a long time, but they were very fortunate to have the support of friends and family.
I trust this column has not been too personal for our weekly paper. But, as a friend said the other day, “Fifty years? That’s a big deal.” Perhaps it is.