Bill and I got engaged and he continued with his plan to go into the Navy while I started college at the University of New Mexico.
I loved my history class because the teacher was a great storyteller. I dropped out of college, however, at the end of my freshman year to marry my soul-mate, Bill. We’ll celebrate our fifty-seventh wedding anniversary September 6, 2014. I can hardly believe it, we feel exactly like the same people we always were.
When Bill got out of the Navy we moved to Inglewood, California. I’d been in beauty school and I got a job with a branch of the Magic Mirror beauty salons and worked to put Bill through school. He worked part time, too, cleaning airplanes between flights. After we had our daughter, he went to school at night and worked days at Douglas Aircraft. Reading books kept me going during this time as they always did. I read to the children, too as small as they were.
Just before he graduated, Bill came home from work and said he’d been offered a job at the space center in Florida. Believing he was kidding me, I said sure, I’d go. I couldn’t imagine moving to such an exotic faraway place, and because I didn’t like news from TV or newspapers,(it was all bad) I honestly had no idea what or where “The Cape,” would turn out to be.
Then one day Bill and I started across the country with our three-year-old and our one year old in a Corvette with bucket seats, nobody wore seatbelts or had car seats in those days, so those adorable little monkeys were all over the car and they wore me to a frazzle, but I suppose it was better than going by wagon train.
The night we crossed the narrow St. John’s River bridge on the way into Titusville was dark and stormy, and we could have sworn it was raining frogs. They were all over the road and impossible to avoid squishing with the tires. When we moved into our house after three weeks in a small motel room we discovered how beautiful and exotic Florida really was—after the Los Angeles smog and sprawl. The same kind of frogs we’d met on the river welcomed us with their croaking from our back yard and by splacking themselves by the dozens all over the glass patio doors. We heard hunting dogs baying at night in the woods behind our house as well as the screech owl’s scream which was hair-raising until we found out what it actually was—a screech owl.
At first, I was terrified of the dragonflies, afraid they’d hurt the children. When I learned their chief purpose in life was to devour mosquito larva and that they didn’t sting I welcomed them.
In the late sixties, Campus Crusade came to our church and our Bible study teacher had us read through the small booklet called, “The Four Spiritual laws.” It starts by saying, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The ending tells us that it’s not enough to believe in Jesus intellectually, but that it is necessary to receive him into your heart. I thought, okay, why not? I prayed the prayer, it made a difference for me. Suddenly the air was sweeter, the sky bluer, the grass greener, and I had more love for my family than ever before, and shortly I became an avid fan of the Bible and an avid church worker.
Quin Sherrer, a reporter, was a member of our church who won the Guideposts writing contest and got to go to New York City for classes in the Guideposts way of writing. She taught us the simple, yet effective writing techniques that Guideposts has always been known for, and that served me well for many years when people asked for help with their writing.
The three most memorable times of helping someone write were when a young friend asked me to write a love poem to a boy she liked. Later I had two more chances to make a difference. One was when a Christian Cuban-American asked me to write a letter to his bosses because he’d been unfairly suspended from his job. Another was when a Christian African American, who had taken in a couple of his cousin’s children, asked me to write a letter to a judge explaining why it would be better for the remaining child to stay with him and his wife than for her to be handed over to her mother who had just been released from prison, but who was showing no evidence of changes.
We got good results from the letters, and I was glad to help with what I love most, next to reading and eating chocolate, of course.