True Romance Enters My Life – Part 2 of 2

 

The Chronicles of Harold

By Harold, Editor-At-Large

True Romance Enters My Life – Part 2 of 2

 

Married

Accordingly we were married at my parent’s house in the woods on the eighth of November the month following.  Earlier my sisters made the remark that they had not met her as of yet and did not know if they could approve of her. Causing me to tell them, “I don’t give a damn if you ever approved, she was my choice. I have brought her here twice for a dinner and my Mother approves of her, Dad likes her, and I love her and that is all there is to it.”

Two of these bitter sisters remarked after the ceremony that one gave us six months, (she is since divorced) and the other one said Catherine would not stay with me long and she later left her husband for another man for a brief fling.  Strange that we are still together after fifty three years, and stranger still that a “had-to marriage” produced our first offspring sixteen months after our wedding day.

A sad note occurred during the short reception when Dad was asked what he had thought about the wedding.  He replied that he thought it was okay except that Catherine had picked the wrong brother.  He further remarked to an older brother and a brother-in-law that, “Had he been a man about it, he would have stepped aside and let his younger brother Lloyd [the one who had caused me all the grief] have her.”

When Catherine overheard this, she came to me and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

When my Mother came outside as we were leaving and wanted to know what was wrong, Catherine told her what Dad had said, and “I have no interest in Lloyd. I’ve only seen i twice and consider him a big bag of wind. I married the man I love and want to spend the rest of my life with.” She remained cool toward Dad the rest of his life and he never once apologized for anything he said or done over the years.

Laid Off

I had been working at Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, they were expecting a large order for windshields for the 1960 model year of Fords and Mercurys and right after I had finished training, Ford decided to give the contract to Owens, Libby.  I, of course, was laid off promptly and had to go back on unemployment. We were living in my sisters little house at this time, which was adjacent to the old home place prior to 1954, and after paying twenty five dollars a month rent, the electric and heating fuel, mostly wood, was more than I had coming in, leaving me nothing to provide groceries nor gas for the car.

My Willlys car I was driving at the time sheared the distributor drive gear on the camshaft leaving me a foot again. I found the following week a 1953 six cylinder Henry J Kaiser the same color of the Willys for $100 which I managed to scrape up to have transportation again.  It burned oil pretty badly and caused me to have to carry around a five gallon bucket of used oil that I strained in the trunk since I could not afford to feed it with new oil. 

Her mother had in the meanwhile moved into the upper story of a big old house in a nearby town that had four bedrooms in the upstairs. I offered her the twenty five dollars a month, plus whatever I could scrape up and the use of the car, since she had to hire transportation to grocery shop in the city.  She readily accepted, so we moved in with her.

That spring, I planted a large garden and we had plenty of fresh produce. I had bought from a neighbor of the folk’s, four chickens — three hens and a rooster. One of the hens sat a large clutch of eggs and we saved all the chicks, thirteen total.  So we had copious garden produce to eat and chicken every Sunday when they grew enough.  They were New Hampshire Reds, which is a big heavy meaty breed that are also prolific egg layers producing large brown eggs, sometimes double yolked ones, which my mother-in law-made noodles with.

Recession & Prejudice

We were having a pretty stiff recession in Illinois at the time and work was practically non-existent, except day labor type that I could pick up from local farmers and the service station. I later found when I asked a prospective employer why he was not willing to hire me, that my Dad had spread the word around that I was just a big dumb-ass with little education and only fit for manual labor. When I directed his attention to my application indicating that I had a BS in both electrical and mechanical engineering, he said it was easy to just put that down on paper, and when I furnished the certificates, he said he just could not take the chance.

This prejudice existed until I retired in and around our small community, until the son of one of Dad’s friends found I was making over  100k when I retired and was indeed a very highly regarded senior electrical engineer working for  General Electric.

I started furnishing tomatoes to the café at the service station and one day Catherine delivered the tomatoes and the lady hired her on the spot since a waitress had just walked off the job.  We existed in this manner until late August when Catherine informed me she was pregnant.  I was pretty well educated and had applied for numerous positions only to be told I was over-educated for the position and would quit as soon as something better came along (believe it or not they had that kind of attitude back then, you were penalized if you wanted to advance), or I was too young for the responsibilities that I had been educated for.

Re-enlisting

I told Catherine what the old Sgt Major had told me about staying out for a year and then re-entering, and after a discussion with her mother and us, I said, “Well I know it will be a permanent job with a monthly income.” So the decision was made for me to re-enlist for aviation training.

Accordingly, I contacted the recruiter who originally enlisted me in 1956. He said it was amazing that my scores on my aptitude tests were exactly the same as four years before, very high, and several of them were maxxed.  I left for Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, on the eleventh of September of that year. I proceeded to draw uniforms and equipment, and since I was prior service, I was on orders for Ft. Rucker, Alabama, for aviation training.

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