January 22 – My brother Roy and Esther were married in May of 1938, not too long after her 19th birthday. She was always special to me, and I can remember how happy I was to be with her, all dressed up in my new dress, the first bought one I ever had. Made of white taffeta, it had a huge skirt.
At the reception party held up on the second floor of her family home, we enjoyed the food and just sat and listened to the talking. That night when bedtime came, I asked Mom, “When is Roy coming home?” Well, I didn’t understand that some things would never be the same. My big brother would no longer “come home,” and I would have to get over that. For days I checked to see if he had come back, only to be disappointed again.
One day when I got off the school bus and walked home from Tillmans’ where the bus had stopped, I found Mom standing out in the front yard with a little box in front of her on the ground. “Sis, we just found out that Skeets (my sister) has the mumps, and we don’t want you to miss any school, so Frank, (one of my brothers), is going to drive you down to Roy’s where you will be staying until the mumps are over in this house!” Well,that was strange news, to say the least. I had never in my whole life ever stayed even one day away from the family and home!
Yes, Roy and his wife Esther were a very special couple, and lived about seven miles or so from us. I slept on a little cot by the warm stove in the kitchen, and wondered every day how things were going at home. In about a week, my throat was sore, but I didn’t say anything, just in case I was coming down with the mumps. Finally, it was hard to take, so I told Roy that I thought maybe the mumps had caught up with me. How did he test that theory? Off to the kitchen he went, made a very sour pickle sandwich and told me to eat it, “all of it!” That kind of sandwich is pretty hard to take if you just have a sore throat, but when the mumps are there to complicate things… But that bout with the mumps (which I did have) didn’t keep me from going to the big Academy High School stadium to watch our team play our arch rival, East High School. With the hood of my heavy wool jacket covering my ears and throat, I was no worse for being outside. And we BEAT East by a healthy margin! However, I had to go back home since I couldn’t go to school with those lumps on my throat.
A couple of other memories come back right now, one of the time when Roy and Esther were having a little disagreement, and I wanted to help them to make things right. The best thing I could think of was a huge onion sandwich! I knew that was one of MY favorites, and I thought that maybe they liked onions too. Maybe they didn’t, but when they could see the humor in the situation, their differences dissolved, and all was well.
As I think of Esther today, at the age of almost 96, there are many happy memories as she treated me so well, and even called me, “little sister.” I am glad she has long ago forgiven me for a dumb thing I did when she first started going out with Roy. She and he were sitting together down on a bench in the grape arbor when I arrived to say hi. In my arms I held a big doll, not a homemade one that Mom had given me, but a real store-bought doll with eyes that opened and shut, with a lovely dress, and almost-real hair.
Walking up to Esther, I asked, “Would you like to see my doll?” After admiring it, she asked, “Who bought it for you?” Well, she asked, so I told her. “Do you know Jeanette? She gave it to me!” Well, how was I to know that the sound of Jeanette’s name might not be what Esther or Roy would like to hear. Why? She was his girlfriend before Esther took over that place! I will always be glad that I didn’t succeed in breaking them up as a couple. I surely didn’t plan on doing that.
Together they had a very happy life, with much love shared day by day. How proud Esther was when Roy, after he had retired, decided to work on his college degree. As a high school graduate, he had to go to work, never giving college a second thought. But once he had the time and funds, he fulfilled a young man’s dream and earned that degree while in his 70s. (to be continued) – CHRIS