The start of it all
The year was 1952. I was stationed in El Centro, California on the southern tip of the Mojave Desert and just 12 miles north of the Mexican border at Mexicali.
It was desert country with Gila Monsters and Scorpions in abundance.
I had been writing to this handsome young lady in Seattle (she had been working for Frederic and Nelson), with her family in Yelm, where her roots were, (along the old Tenino highway with "Chew Mail Pouch” Tobacco sign on almost every barn roof.)
At the time, she was 19 and I was 18.
After a few months of correspondence, we set a wedding date for October 4.
It would be a fateful day that would affect the rest of both of our lives.
After a looong Greyhound bus ride, I arrived in Yelm a day or two before the scheduled event.
The little Yelm church, which I think still exists, was pastor'ed by a tough ol' Texan who wouldn't let me sneak out the back door when I started getting cold feet.
As the ceremony proceeded and I was ushered into the alter area, somewhat forcefully, through the side door, a quite young cousin shouted, "Here comes ol' John a-sneakin' in." He got that right!
The church alter was adjusted with hastily moved-in temporary steps for such occasions. Problem? The carpet was wider'n the steps and when, upon completion of the event, I fell off the unsupported side and I did some cussin' that must have upset the majority of the congregation.
The entourage proceeded a little over a block away to a community building called the "Scout Cabin" that was about the only place in town that could accommodate the several dozen people in attendance.
There an old family friend, trying to be the right kind of a fella, had a fairly sizeable jug that he proceeded to secretly empty into the punch bowl.
There was a whole lot of dancin' and laughin' going on for the rest of the evening that these church ladies involved themselves in as the night wore on. They seemed to love it.
Well... here we are. Our "friends" were taking bets that "it wouldn't last" more'n a few months or maybe a year.
Here I was, a salty young sailor and my new bride, a hard working girl steeped in the teachings of the church, about to depart on a Greyhound bus for El Centro to live in a cabin that would make the dumps at Copalis Beach seem like palaces.
How we made it, I don't know but it's been a tad over 60 years. Do you think it will last?