Thursday, February 9, 2012
When Valentine’s Day arrives next Tuesday, many of us “old marrieds” will be out celebrating and discussing how we met. From what I see today, a lot of couples are meeting and apparently marrying after initially submitting information over the internet to determine their best “matches.” I frankly don’t know people who’ve met and married this way but there are probably loads of them. What I do know is that if Jim Hill and I had submitted applications based on our likes and dislikes in food, sports, music, living destinations, vacation spots and a myriad of other things 58 years ago, we’d never made a match.
What happened was we both got on the same train going home for Christmas vacation during college, met in the club car where a bunch of students sat up all night singing holiday carols while the train stopped every hour or so between Chicago and Atlanta. After that night, neither or us ever dated anyone else. “What it was, was chemistry” – to paraphrase Andy Griffith’s famous stand-up monologue about college football.
I wasn’t going to go into that club car at all. My dad had reserved a “roomette” so I could have privacy and I planned to eat a decadent dinner and go to bed early with a gossipy movie magazine – something I hadn’t been able to do all semester. My college big sister, who was also on the train, coerced me to join the party for just a half hour or so to keep her company until she got off at her home station. I sat down next to Jim and totally forgot my big sister, my dinner, my roomette and my magazine. He bought me a tiny pack of peanuts and a Coke, which he told me later used up almost all of the cash he had on him. Jim was a Notre Dame student and that university was just across the highway from my school, St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. We got engaged within months and married a swift four years later, due to the fact we both had to continue our educations, start careers and earn money.
Back in the late 1920s my dad spent months cashing his steel company paychecks with a brown-eyed, auburn haired bank teller. He always stood in her line, no matter how long it was. He mooned over her for ages, when one day, his buddy, who was standing in an adjoining, but much shorter line, chided dad that if he was going to spend so much time watching said Flapper, he ought to just lean over the counter, give her a big kiss and ask her out. He did. She did. And they did. He and mom were engaged for six years because of The Depression. Again, it was chemistry. They couldn’t have been more different either.
Jim and I are still together after 54 years – which included 25 Air Force years, two post-AF careers, four kids and six grands. We still don’t agree on many of those aforementioned “matches.”
We do agree that we’re going out to celebrate our 58th Valentine’s Day together. We also agree with the DuPont Company’s long running (from 1935 to 1982) commercial advertising formula:
“Better Living Through Chemistry.”