They’ve been gone several years now, but their love lives on in both me and my brother and our families.
The way I heard it, Dad’s proposal went something like this: “Why don’t we get hitched over Labor Day?”
That did the trick and Mom agreed. They were wed here in Austin on Sept. 3rd, 1949 before a small gathering of family and friends. The few photos I have from that day show a lot of smiles all round. Their love shines in the old black & white pictures, just as it has shone as a guiding light throughout my life.
Turns out — it nearly didn’t happen.
She used this to chronicle people she met, places she went (including a train trip to Seattle), and “Important Dates and Events,” ending with the simple note:
3/31/45 He gave me the ring.
That’s how I learned of Mom’s first — broken — engagement, 5 years before marrying Dad.
Then I found the fellow, Clifton Simcik, listed in the section, “A Person to Remember.” After I’d read through these notes, I realized the connection between the two: Cliff’s cousin, Bill Stasney had married my mom’s sister, my Aunt Jo, three years earlier.
We write each other frequently.
This might also explain the train trip to Seattle, as it looks like Mom was traveling with Cliff’s mother as well as a friend, Aleen. With Cliff in the U.S. Naval Reserves, I suspect they had all gone to visit him.
The notes about the trip show she arrived in Seattle on March 31, 1945, the official date for their engagement.
So what happened?
Since Mom never told me the story of the engagement, she had never told me how it ended. Then I ran across a story written for an English assignment entitled, “Wise Decision.”
“But why go back to school?…
I’m not going to let my wife work, ever.”
When I read through it, I realized I had heard Mom mention something about this. Though I knew none of the details, I could recall her talking about choosing to go to college over a boyfriend back home.
Mom valued education throughout her life, and from the first time she visited her older sister, Marion, attending the University of Texas, she had her heart and mind set on that goal.
Curiously enough, I’ve lost or misplaced the final page where the “Wise Decision” itself is unveiled in the story. And again, I don’t know the specifics that occurred between my mom and her fiancee Cliff after March 31, 1945, nor how their engagement ended. We do know that it ended.
And we do know Dell & Leonard got hitched over that Labor Day back in 1949.
They celebrated their 40th Anniversary with a party organized by my brother and his wife, surrounded, as always, by family & friends.
You made a wise decision indeed, Mom. Thanks!