How the years have flown. Can we really be this old?
Was it indeed that long ago that we were dreaming of marriage. Truth is, we didn’t take very long with the dreaming part.
Ed and I met while working at a local summer camp. He’d just finished four years as a Navy Seabee (Construction Battalion) when his mentor and fishing buddy, who happened to be the camp director, asked him to work as the summer maintenance crew leader. I was working my second summer there as assistant wrangler. First awareness came when he helped Lowell and I build a small blacksmith shop for Lowell, the head wrangler and certified blacksmith. We took to hanging out together and riding horses Sunday afternoons. Star Wars came out that summer. He went to watch it in the theaters three times. Each time taking a different camp worker. I was the last. (We’re still friends with the girl of his second date.)
By summer’s end we didn’t want to say goodbye. By the end of October we were talking marriage. November and plans were made to drive to my folk’s place in Flagstaff, AZ for Christmas. A good friend decided she should go too since her parents also lived in Flag. We would drive her car which was far more reliable than Ed’s old pickup truck held together with baling wire. Car-less, I depended on public transportation.
I was a bride’s maid in a friend’s 7pm wedding, Dec 23rd, which took place in a town about an hour west of Portland. Driving straight from the wedding back across to East Portland to pick up Lydia we arrived at the hospital just as she got off her swing shift. She’d stashed her suitcase in the car earlier that day and without delay we drove the night away. South, down the length of Oregon, up and over the snowy Siskiyou Mountains straddling the Oregon/California border. Swinging east heading for Nevada, we encountered the heaviest, thickest fog I hope to ever drive through. Scary! Fortunately at that early time of the morning on that straight back country road there was almost no traffic. Driving, my head hung out the window as I desperately peered for the dotted line to keep us centered on the road. Ed kept a sharp look out for car lights ahead while Lydia watched for cars through the back window. We crept along about 10 miles an hour for what felt like hours. Then finally we broke through into sunshine. On through Reno, Las Vegas, over Boulder Dam and into Arizona, stopping only to gas up and grab a bit to eat as Saturday crept to a close. (Car food the rest of the time.) Speeding along I-40, finally winding up into higher elevations leading to Flagstaff we arrived stiff, exhausted ,yet exhilarated at 5:30 Christmas morning. 30 hours of almost non-stop driving, an early Christmas surprise. (Normally it took us 36 hours for the journey.)
21st Birthday December 26 Looking at my parent’s wedding album
Ed managed to get my dad alone. My dad knew what was coming and teased him by asking Ed all sorts of evasive questions just to make Ed squirm. That night he slipped the engagement ring on my finger and we celebrated with my folks and talked about wedding plans. Mom was a teacher at a small college at the time so we weighed the merits of a Spring break vs a summer wedding.
Jokingly I turned to mom and said, “we should get married on your anniversary.” Without a beat of hesitation she replied, “Yes, you could!” Ed and I looked at each other in utter astonishment and mounting excitement. We turned to dad who nodded and said, “Why not?”
Why not? Their anniversary was January 1st, in six days. Could we pull it off? Why not? Ed’s dad was a preacher and we knew that it’d be difficult for him to call in a back-up for that Sunday, which like this January 1st also landed on a Sunday. But, they should be able to fly to Flagstaff right after church. We moved the date back one day to January 2nd. (We were amused by idea of marriage on a Monday, and a date that wasn’t so wildly popular for weddings.)
Phone calls were made and plans quickly fell into place. I borrowed a dress, my dear friend since 8th grade flew from Texas, together we stalked up the flank of the Mt Elden gathering wild grasses, greenery and some freeze-dried red berries still clinging to their bushes – anything that looked like a possibility for decorations. A small cake was ordered as well as a head-piece and bouquets of daisies. (There were very few options at that time in Flagstaff!) A dear friend, also from High School days, willingly agreed to play the piano for the wedding. A back-up minister in case Ed’s dad didn’t make it, which looking more likely with each passing day.
Stay tuned for next installment!