As of tomorrow, Meg and Nate’s newlywed story will be on hold for about 10 days. Six of my grandchildren and their parents will be here taking precedence over     blog-writing time as we play at the beach.



From Iowa (top) and Florida (bottom)

    But before this brief hiatus, one last post about the newlyweds,                       sending them out on a high.


May 4, 1970

From my journal:

This afternoon Nate was home before I was, writing one of his long final papers. When I began to put my key in the apartment lock, the door swung open wide, and before me stood a tall, black stool upon which was an avocado green napkin, upon which was a large silver tray, upon which was our long-awaited Chicago teachers pension check — $838.11…. instant salvation from debt – presented to me on a silver platter! Exuberant hugging, kissing, and a celebration dinner out!

JournalWe had been struggling to stay ahead financially, borrowing here and there from parents and the university, but had both been bothered by it. When the check from Chicago came, we could hardly believe it! It had been weeks, actually months, since we’d applied, and we were sure my teaching record had slipped through the cracks.

What a pleasure it would be to pay off the university and Nate’s parents. The money we owed Dad for his help with the Mustang would take longer, but with these funds, we could make a big dent in it. And what a good feeling that was!

HailstonesEven nature decided to celebrate with us. A sudden, wild hailstorm covered our brick street with marble-size hailstones, delivering them in a torrential rain. Because it was warm out, we skipped down the stairs with bowl-in-hand and filled it with hailstones.

Though it was nearly 11:00 PM when we climbed back up to our apartment, we had made a fun, slap-happy memory. The fact that we were soaked didn’t detract from the reality that it had been a good day – a very good day.

We had fresh bounty for our bank account and a bowlful of hailstones for our freezer.

“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Newlywed Love (#57)


April 30, 1970

While I waited to hear from the Danville School Board, I decided to get Mom’s sewing machine out of the closet. The plan was to work on something productive each evening, while Nate studied…. rather than just sit and stew.

Back in 7th grade I’d taken a sewing class (compulsory for girls) and learned the basics. The end-product that year was a colorful apron for Mom that tied around the waist.

MeasuringNot much sewing had happened after that, until my friend Lynn began teaching me more. She’d really taken to sewing, and I admired her custom-made skirts, vests, jumpers, and dresses.

Once Nate and I got married, our stripped apartment was desperate for a home-y touch, so I borrowed Mom’s machine and made several sets of curtains for the bare windows. A couple of tablecloths with matching napkins were easy, too — because they were all made with straight lines.

Wanting a challenge, I decided to tackle a cover for the round hassock Mom and Dad had donated. It was brown, and our color scheme (if it could be called that) was anything but. The living room was gold with red accents, dining room mostly green, kitchen orange with yellow. The bedroom was gold, the bathroom black and white.

Using extra red material from the living room curtains, my sewing technique for the hassock was to stretch fabric over the top and cut a circle bigger than that. Then I put the hassock on its side and rolled it once-around, cutting the material accordingly.

Lynn had taught me how to put piping in the middle of a seam, so I added black piping to the red material. When my measurement turned out to be too short, I cut it in half, tried again, and put more piping between the halves to disguise my error.

Hassock and floor pillow

Nate applauded the result — careful not to inspect for mistakes – and encouraged me to sew more. I covered a big floor pillow to match the hassock, adding tassels at the corners and a button in the middle.

That was followed by a bed skirt with matching bed pillow, and 3 table runners.

Still, my seam-work was mostly straight lines. That’s when I attempted to make a dress. Lynn suggested I use a simple pattern put out by a company called… “Simplicity.”

I chose kiwi green fabric and got to work. Because I wanted a floor-length dress but nothing fancy, I chose a new-fangled material called “Perma-Press.” Supposedly it could be washed and would never need ironing .

Green dressMy piping skills transferred nicely to a little lace, and Lynn taught me how to pleat the front through long distance phone instruction. A few buttons finished it off.

Best of all, the sewing occupied my thoughts for many days – keeping them off the Danville teaching job.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7)

Newlywed Love (#56)

April 26, 1970

The interviewAt long last it was time for my interview with the Danville Board of Education. As far as I knew, the kindergarten position in the district was still open, though others were being interviewed, too.

Feeling intimidated and under-confident, I hoped my love for five-year-olds would shine through and that 3 years of teaching experience would be enough. I was thankful for Mr. Scarce’s positive evaluation, and just in case my interviewer hadn’t read that, I brought my copy.

After I was seated in front of my interviewer, the first thing he said was, “I see from your record here that you never did your student teaching. Is that correct?”

I felt like I might as well head for the door.

“That’s right,” I said. As he continued to shuffle papers in my thin file, I reminded him I’d first gotten into teaching by helping out in Chicago during the 1967 teacher shortage – thinking that might win a smidgen of approval. But it backfired.

“So,” he said, “you never really studied to be a teacher in college then?”

“Well, I wasn’t an education major, if that’s what you mean. But I’ve always loved children and have taught at summer camps and in Sunday schools.”

I saw him pick up Mr. Scarce’s evaluation sheet and study both sides. Before he could say anything I said, “I did take quite a few adult education classes in Chicago, all elementary ed courses, during the two years I taught there.”

Interview sign“But none while teaching in Danville?” he said, looking up at me over his glasses.

When I had to say no, I figured my goose was cooked. It hadn’t been required when I first applied in Danville, but I probably should have continued taking classes on my own. Without a teaching credential, my job had always been in jeopardy, but after leaving Chicago, I was too busy planning our wedding to even think of it.

The interview continued for an hour as we covered my year of teaching 1st grade and why I wanted to leave McKinley School. When he stood to usher me out, I felt like a failure. I couldn’t think of a single reason why he would give me the job teaching kindergarten.

His last words sounded cold. “It’ll be a few weeks before you hear anything.”

By the time I arrived home I was near tears. Nate could tell by my face it hadn’t gone well and quickly folded me into his arms. I cried a little in that circle of safety, telling him I probably wouldn’t ever be able to teach again. And if I didn’t teach, what would I do? After applying for summer work all over Champaign, I’d still come up empty. Our university town was flooded with people my age looking for work, and good jobs were few.

The two of us sat together talking things through. Feeling dejected I said, “This is probably the kind of thing our 4 parents thought of when we pushed to get married so soon.” (Nate’s folks had hoped we’d wait till he had his law degree and could support a wife…. but we were impatient.)

“Don’t worry about any of this,” Nate said while stroking my cheek. “It’ll all work out somehow. Besides, you don’t know for sure they’ll give that job to someone else.”

His words were a big help, and I decided to believe him. After all, we had prayed about my interview ahead of time, and we both knew the Lord had heard us. If I didn’t get the job, God would surely give me something else to do.

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8)