Friday, April 4, 2014

My True Wedding Story

I met Jim when I was sixteen and he was twenty-one and fresh out of a four-year active hitch in the Navy. Although I had grown up in Minnesota, the state had determined it needed a highway right through my parent's property. You don't get far arguing with the state. We were forced to move.

My dad had always wanted to live in California, though how he talked mom into leaving all of her family and moving there has always remained a mystery. My parents bought a home in a new development in Carlsbad--right across the street from a family called "The Keith's."

Jim during his Navy days active
duty. Photo taken shortly
before I met him.
Other than to notice that he was older and very handsome, I hadn't paid much attention to the boy across the street. Then one day he happened to back his car out of his driveway just as my middle sister and I were headed off toward the bus stop for the trip to Oceanside High School. He asked if we wanted a ride. Seemed good to me so we got in his car.

Driving to the bus stop, a short two blocks, became an everyday occurrence. On one of those days he asked if I'd like to go to Disneyland with him. What a guy! I thought that sounded like a great idea. My mom, however, disagreed. He was too old for me. He'd been in the Navy, so that meant he'd been around. Dad contended that Jim came from a good family and since my folks had gotten to know his folks, dad said I should be able to go. How he talked mom into agreeing still puzzles me.

Love? I was a high
school kid doing
typical high school
Jim and I dated six months. During that  time I turned seventeen and he turned twenty-two. He was serious; I was not. I was a high school kid who wore saddle shoes with anklets, played clarinet in the band, and had not one serious thought about marriage in my whole brain. One night Jim told me he loved me and did I love him. Taken by surprise, I stammered around and finally said, "I don't know." Typical Jim, he just looked at me and said, "If you change your mind, will you let me know?"

The longer we dated the more I realized that Jim was far different from any of the others I'd ever dated. He was always the perfect gentleman, a snappy dresser, exceedingly kind and considerate. His sense of humor often sent me into gales of laughter. One day it dawned on me that I had become serious too.

Jim asked my parents permission to marry. You can just about guess how that
We received many nice things at our
engagement party but what I
remember most is that Jim got a
bat and I got a rolling pin.
went over. I had a year of high school left; I was too young; I didn't know what love was. My folks voiced all of their objections. "Absolutely not," they said. Not for at least a year-." They did, however, agree to an engagement party, which I considered a great idea.

I continued to request permission to marry and always received the same answer. "No. Not until after graduation." So we eloped. Twice. One Sunday we drove to Yuma, Arizona and found a wedding chapel. But the minister wanted blood tests. Oh boy, we hadn't known that. We went back to Carlsbad and in a few days, we had our blood tests. Two weeks later, we eloped again.

Staying with Jim's sister in Navy housing
It was easier than it sounds. By now my parents had gone back to Minnesota to finish up business with the State and an aunt and uncle were staying with us. Before my parents had taken off, they'd found out that Jim was planning a trip east to see his sister in Norfolk, VA. Being ever thrifty, my parents asked Jim to bring the three of us girls as far as Minnesota and drop us off. We wouldn't be missing any school since we were on Easter vacation.

We three sisters, taken only weeks before
Jim and I eloped.
The first day out I told my sisters that Jim and I had gotten married. They spewed forth all of their wisdom. "Mom and dad are gonna' be mad," the said. "You're in big trouble," they said. I listened to it all and replied "I know it."

Wedding reception in
Minnesota. I still have
many of the things we
received that day.
I won't say what my parents said when Jim informed them we were married. You can likely imagine it for yourself. Mom wanted to annul us; dad said "No--what's done is done." One of my cousins persuaded my folks to give us a reception. Good thing. We had absolutely nothing to our names except our clothes. Oh yeah, and a navy sea bag to keep them in.

When we'd been married fifteen years, Jim decided we
Waiting to be seated for dinner.
should have the honeymoon we'd never really had and told
me to pack a suitcase for a long weekend, refusing to tell me where we were going. He spirited me off to Santa Barbara. We walked on the pier, ate dinner at a fancy restaurant, saw a show, visited the mission, played on the beach. The kids were home with grandparents. A neighbor was feeding the cat. I don't know where my sisters were, but they sure weren't with us.