Newlywed Love (#5)

December 13, 1969

After my second day back at school, Nate and I had something special to write on our wall calendar – our first social engagement as husband and wife.

Principal Scarce and meMr. Scarce, our McKinley School principal, had come to my classroom asking if the two of us would come to his home the following weekend for a multi-purpose party: to celebrate our wedding and also the Christmas season. All 7 teachers would be invited, and he hinted there might be a “roast.” It was easy to guess who. (Right: Principal Scarce and me)

More than happy to keep the wedding celebration going, Nate and I accepted. When party day arrived, it was extra special because my carpool buddies Judy and Linda were there, too, along with their husbands. All of us were newlyweds enjoying our first year of marriage.

It seemed odd to be driving the 40 miles to Danville on a Saturday evening, but we were proud to have our men along and eager to introduce them to our work cronies.

Scarce partyAs soon as we arrived, Mr. Scarce pinned a gauzy curtain to my hair. He had a little trouble, since I was wearing a wig. (Nate and I had decided to grow our hair for a while  – he a mustache and me a longer ‘do. His ‘stache was coming along nicely, but every day was a bad-hair day for me.)

“After we eat,” Mr. Scarce said, “we’re going to have a mock wedding.” (Above, Linda and Ron behind us.)

Although the roasting part of the ceremony was a bit racy, I reminded myself we weren’t in church. Part of it was a summary of the bride’s qualifications for marriage, including her ability to ditch teacher training days (…apparently forgiven but not forgotten).

Scarce party.At the end of it, Mr. Scarce presented us with a fake marriage license, pretending to be shocked as he announced we weren’t really married after all, because of an error on the license. We played along, always mindful that our host was also my boss.

The evening was a success, and I was grateful to be back in the good graces of our principal… sort of. I knew I was going to search for a new school the following year where I might be able to teach kindergarten again, and no doubt he wouldn’t like that. But a good recommendation would be critical.

Although Danville hadn’t required me to attend adult education classes in order to continue teaching, I still wasn’t officially certified. If the need for “provisional” teachers disappeared, I’d be out the door —  which would mean financial ruin for Nate and I. As he attended law school, my small paycheck was our sole support. With loving families behind us, we knew we’d never starve, but we wanted very much to do life on our own.

“The Lord is your keeper… He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in.” (Psalm 121:5,7,8)

Newlywed Love (#4)

December 4, 1969

Alarm clock.On the Thursday after our wedding, Nate and I woke to the ringing of an alarm clock — our official call-back into “regular life.” But waking up with a husband lying next to me was indeed something special. The charm of that hadn’t diminished at all…. but then again, we’d only had five such mornings.

“Hello, my husband!” I said, enamored with the sound of that.

His response was, “I love you, Meg.”

We extracted ourselves from the swoopy center of the Murphy bed, and Nate made coffee in our little percolator while I showered. But making coffee didn’t take long, and before I finished, he was peeking around the shower curtain, hoping to be invited in… which he was.

In an hour I was riding in Judy’s car on the way to Danville with her and Linda, mentally working hard to switch gears from bride to teacher. I couldn’t recall what I’d been teaching them when I left and was nervous about jumping right in. A sub had taken my place for 3 days, and I had no idea where the children were in their studies.

Lesson plan bookBut I needn’t have worried. While I was reacquainting myself with my lesson plan book, “my” children began running in, excited that I was back. Each wanted a personal hug, and their affection was exactly the encouragement I needed.

Once they were all at their desks and we’d said the Pledge of Allegiance, I began happily sharing the details of our wedding. But what they really wanted was to tell me what had happened in their lives while I’d been gone.

Many had gifts for me – drawings of turkeys, family members, and me. Together we hung them in a row across the blackboard, and I reminded them of my new name.

“But you’re Miss Johnson,” several said, with furrowed brows.

Lowering my voice to a whisper, I leaned toward them and said, “Let me tell you a little secret. I’m having trouble remembering my new name. I’ve been Miss Johnson for 24 years and have only had my new name for 5 days.” I held up 5 fingers, continuing to whisper. “I’m going to ask you for a big favor. Would you help me remember my new name?” None of them said a word.

Throughout that first day, I purposely referred to myself as Miss Johnson a number of times, and sure enough. They jumped all over me. “Not anymore! You’re Mrs. Nyman now!” Before long they were competing to see who could correct me first — and that’s all it took.

As we got closer to the 3:00 bell, my thoughts turned toward our apartment, hoping Nate would be there when I got home. Being separated from him had seemed unnatural after 7 days of togetherness.

Once our carpool had driven the 40 miles back to Champaign, I raced up the stairs and there he was, throwing the door open. He spread his arms wide, and I joyfully ran right in.

A student.His day of classes hadn’t passed as easily as my first day. He’d missed a great deal, and law school moves at a fast clip with massive reading assignments every day. He knew it would take a while to catch up and get on top of it again.

To this point in his studies he hadn’t missed a single class, so it was hard to deal with the fallout of having missed so many. My role in all of it, though, was a very nice one — to do everything I could to ease his stress.

“When we run into problems…. we know that they help us develop endurance.” (Romans 5:3)

Newlywed Love (#3)

December 3, 1969

LeavingAll too soon our honeymoon was over, and it was time to leave The Drake. We packed up, then stood together and looked around our room, promising never to forget all the happiness we’d known during our brief stay. The bell boy came to help us out, and I left the hotel just as I’d entered, carrying the giant bundle of my rolled up wedding gown and veil with the crown on top.

Nate went to retrieve his VW from the underground garage where it had been hiding for a week, and we loaded up. On a lark we decided to drive north to Wilmette before heading south to our apartment. Mom and Dad would be at Wednesday night prayer meeting, and we wanted to leave a surprise.

As we came in the kitchen door, I saw Mom’s diary open on the table with a note revealing how truly draining our wedding prep had been for her. On Sunday, the day after, she’d written, “Wondered if I could get thru Sunday – was bushed! Brot flowers home – some to ill folk.”

Mom's diary

Even in her depleted condition, she’d taken time to divide the wedding flowers and drive them to various nursing homes, passing out bouquets to shut-ins.

Mom rallied quickly after that. On Monday she’d written, “All the pressures are gone! And now Christmas music descends!”

Lawrence WelkI had no trouble picturing her making multiple trips to the airport to deposit out-of-town relatives but then heading home to her 33 rpm Christmas records cranked on high volume – Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller.

Glad to see all was well on the home front, Nate and I took a minute to spread my wedding gown and veil (with crown) on their freshly-carpeted living room floor. Tucking our thank you letters into my white shoes, we placed them neatly at the bottom alongside our gifts for them – then joyfully pointed our car toward Champaign.

When we got there it was late, but we bounded up to our 3rd floor “nest” like a couple of teenagers, anxious to get going on real married life. Nate carried me across the threshold, and then we readied for sleep. Though we didn’t yet have a bedroom set, it didn’t matter. We could spend the night together on the Murphy with no fear of “getting caught” doing something we shouldn’t.

The MurphySitting on the edge of the pull-down bed, Nate wrapped his arms around me, and we talked about all that had happened in the week since we’d left our apartment. “Why don’t we pray?” he said. After voicing a long list of blessings, he thanked God for each one…. and spent several extra minutes thanking God for me.

And then we turned out the light.

“Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)