Happy Anniversary to my parents, Betty and Bob. Today, 18 February 2015, they would have been married 53 years. The first year, they lay at rest, together again.
About a year ago, my mother wrote an account of their first date, courtship, engagement and marriage:
Pat, my friend since the age of ten, and I, grew up in a neighborhood [the Bellrock section of Malden, Massachusetts] with lots of kids our age. When we were teens, we hung around the corner drug store, owned by Hy Goldberg, a very good friend of your grandfather [Dr. Charles George Hall]. A coke was five cents, an ice cream was eight cents. It was Kerwin, Ferrick, Short, Sheehan, O’Keefe, Dean, Skelton, Winchell, Keough, Hall, Murphy, Nugent, etc.
The guys all went to Malden High or the trade school. Most were in the high school with me and played sports of some kind. Pat and I went to most of the games.
Your father played football and baseball. The guys on the football team dated the cheerleaders. Your dad dated a girl named Alice. She would take the bus home from school, pass the drug store, see Pat and me there with other girls and the guys, and accuse Bob of cheating on her. She didn’t like us. We probably weren’t even paying attention to Bob with so many kids hanging out there. All just friends.
When your dad joined the Air Force with Kerwin and several other guys and was sent overseas Alice would write to him often. He hated writing letters so he gave her letter to a friend to answer. The friend typed a reply and your dad signed. He said he very often didn’t even bother to read it. What a brat! When he got home she had moved on and was seeing someone else. His friends kept fixing him up with different girls. He said it was usually just the one date.
One night, in 1961, I got a phone call from Bob’s friend Woody Short aka Lloyd Short. He was calling from the Kernwood Restaurant and Bar. I don’t think either one of them were entirely sober. Woody asked me if I’d go out with Bob on Saturday night. Thinking he was drunk and it was a joke, I said, “sure why not”. Saturday came, I was sitting around reading a book or watching TV, when the door bell rang. I was shocked to find Bob standing there. I did go out with him. It was the middle of May. We went to a drive-in-movie to see “Rally Around the Flag Boys”.
We talked through most of the movie. When he took me home, he said he never noticed how cute I was and what a good sense of humor I had, and then kissed me goodnight. I figured it was one date and dismissed it.
He was a neighborhood friend! Low and behold he called me again and again.
I did date a guy before your father, for seven years. He was a Lithuanian guy from Salem, Massachusetts, named Eddie Piecewick. I wasn’t seeing much of Eddie, with him working and going to school and living so far away, so I went out with Bob. We were not exclusive as you kids today put it. That’s why I started dating your dad at the same time. Bob and Eddie did not get along, the few times that they met. Only because your father was rude to him or maybe just jealous. Bob and I went to Pat’s (she was married by then), out to dinner, movies, walking the length of Revere Beach, etc. Pat was happy I was dating him, but my other friends were kind of cool toward him, because they were all friends with Eddie.After your father got home from the hospital in Germany and recovered at home he got a an infection in the same stomach area and had to go into Chelsea Navel Hospital for medical attention. Nana [Bob’s mother, Edith], who I had never met, called me and asked me to take her to visit him. I had been invited to their house, because they knew we were dating, but thought “rich doctor, stuffy wife”, no way was I going there. Much to my surprise, she was very down to earth and a lovely person. Through a good part of her life she introduced me as her “daughter in love”. We got along great. Grampa [Bob’s father] told Bob that he made a good choice and he liked my sense of humor. We all got along great. I worried for nothing.
By August he asked me to marry him. I said no, that was not for me. He asked me again in September and then I said yes. For my birthday he gave me an engagement ring.We planned a small wedding because I had little money, having spent it on funerals for my father and mother. Also I had no family to speak of. I wanted to wait a year to get married, he didn’t, so we picked 18 February 1962.
Pat was my maid of honor, Janice [Bob’s niece] my flower girl, who hated having to wear a dress. She looked adorable in the dress, Helen, her mother, made for her. Joanne [Bob’s first cousin] took care of the guest book and did a wonderful job. Also looked so cute. Back then a person took the book around for the guests to sign. Because my godfather [maternal uncle, Edmond Sylvio Roy] could not make it up from Florida to give me away, I asked Tom O’Keefe [Betty’s foster brother]. Joking, he said he’d be happy to get rid of me! By then he was married to Liz. I asked Aunt Margaret [Betty’s foster mother] to stand in for my mother. She did and looked lovely.
We were married at Sacred Heart Church in Malden by Father Hart later to become Bishop Hart. We were not allowed inside the alter as most brides were, because Bob was not Catholic. I had to get permission from the bishop to marry outside my faith. My bans, an announcement in the bulletin, was not allowed. Bob had to attend a meeting with the priest on the Catholic religion. He met with Father Hart and said they mostly talked about the greyhounds [Bob and his dad and grandfather raised and raced dogs], after Bob promised to bring any children up Catholic.The reception was at the American Legion Hall on Pleasant Street, because Aunt Margaret’s husband was a member, and she was too, so she got us a deal. We had a band. An old boyfriend’s brother in law. I forget his name. No special song. Maybe fifty people or less. I forget. Mostly Bob’s friends, mine from Malden and work. Some of Aunt Margaret’s friends and relatives and Nana’s friends and her knitting club. A couple of doctors that were friends of Grampa. Grampa’s only request was that he not wear a Tux.After the reception we stopped to see Georgiana [Bob’s paternal grandmother], because for reasons I never heard, she did not attend the wedding.
We went to Pennsylvania for a week. I remember staying the first night in New York and leaving my only pair of heels there. I had to buy shoes in Pennsylvania but the hotel did mail my shoes to me. We met a lot of nice people. We went to a place called Mount Airy Resort in the Pocono Mountains. It’s still there but looking at it on line it’s been updated after fifty two years. It is or was a honeymoon resort with a hotel and outlying cottages. Lots of things going on and most of the people there were our age. It had it’s own restaurant and night club. You could ski, sled, hike, etc. Dancing and entertainment in the club.
After the honeymoon we went to our apartment at 64 James Street in Malden, returning home in a miserable snow storm. It was a nice surprise that your grandparents [Bob’s parents], went food shopping and left us food in the house. We forgot to do that before we left! Also we came back on a Sunday when the stores were closed. Would you believe I still have the giant sized can of Spaghetti O’s they left!!!
We planned to work for a few years before having children, but come April, I found out I was having a baby!!! I worked until September [at John Hancock]. Back then you could not work beyond five months. On December 29, 1962 we had a baby girl. The rest of that story is yours!!!
This is a reminder to document your own courtship and that of your ancestors to preserve your story for future generations!!