Newlywed Love (#97)

September 6-7, 1970

M, E, and B

A blog note:

Our daughter Birgitta and granddaughter Emerald (right) will be arriving tonight for a happy weekend in Michigan.


Then on Monday, my college roommate Julie (below) will be coming with her friend Ming for the rest of the week.


Beach buddiesBecause of these festivities, the blog-saga of Meg and Nate’s newlywed year will be on hold for a week or so.

Eventually we’ll get them to their first wedding anniversary (November 29) before closing the book on them. First, though, let’s see how the 1970 Labor Day weekend finished out:


Smooching BaronAfter Lynn and Don’s wedding, Nate and I made a bee-line across two suburbs to Mom and Dad’s place in Wilmette – anticipating a reunion with our beloved doggie Baron. As soon as we saw him, Nate scooped him up and planted a kiss right on his nose. (Picture is of a second kiss the next day…)

We were astounded by how much he’d grown. Obviously, he was a happy, healthy poochie.

On Sunday, Mom hosted a mid-day dinner that doubled as a birthday party for Dad (#71) and brother Tom (#20), who was born on Dad’s 50th.


David and TomAmong the party guests was Tom’s good friend David (to the left of Tom), the guy who had become a regular babysitter for Baron. As the afternoon unfolded, Nate and I could see how close David and Baron had become, with “our” puppy responding better to him than to us.



On the drive back to Champaign early the next morning, we could see the writing on the wall. Since we had one more year in our apartment where dogs weren’t allowed, and since Mom and Dad seemed to continually be on the move, Baron would be spending more and more time with David — and end up in his family instead of ours.

Playing with BaronThough we could rightfully claim him after our year in Champaign, by then that would be hard on both boy-and-dog. So, as we ticked off the miles toward home, we felt ourselves slowly accepting a difficult truth: we would need to begin separating from sweet Baron.

We drove along in silence trying to absorb this sad reality, and I remembered something David had said at the dinner. “I hope some day you’ll let me take care of Baron full time. That would be a dream come true for me. And my whole family already loves him.”

Though Nate was feeling low too, he came up with one positive thought. “I’m sure if Baron went with David, he’d let us visit him any time we came to town.” Since his family and ours were good friends through decades together at Moody Church, I knew that was true.

“Also,” Nate said, “letting your parents get out from under the responsibility we never should have put on them in the first place, is the right thing to do.” We both knew that, too.

Shaking a balloonBy the time we pulled into our gravel parking spot behind the apartment, Nate and I reasoned that maybe the back story of why Baron had come to us at all was because God wanted us to deliver him to David. As hard as that was to think about, it would mean that everything was actually turning out the way it was supposed to be.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him.” (Job 22:21)

Newlywed Love (#84)

Aug. 8-9, 1970


With Mary, Bervin, and Tom coming to Champaign for the weekend, Nate and I worked hard to clean the apartment, front to back. We didn’t own a vacuum but  had been given a partially-functional carpet sweeper. It was powered by good old fashioned elbow grease, and I always reserved that chore for Nate.

Carpet sweeperThe carpet sweeper had a revolving bar much like a vacuum, but it wouldn’t pick anything up unless the user pressed down hard while shoving it around the room. It was pure pleasure watching Nate throw himself into that assignment each week, and our dull, grey carpets never looked better.

When our little home was sparkling, we shopped together for fondue ingredients, thoroughly excited about our visitors. But as we unpacked the groceries, our phone rang — and brought bad news. Chicago weather had “turned,” and small planes weren’t allowed to fly. The forecast was better the following day, though, and they planned to come then.

When the weather didn’t improve, Mary and Bervin decided to drive. This shortened their visit to just a few hours, but we were glad they still wanted to come. Sadly, Tom couldn’t join them, since Corvettes have no back seat.

Fondue dinnerThey pulled up to our building just after lunch, and we headed for Allerton Park in an effort to work up an appetite for dinner.

Mary surprised me with dessert — a homemade birthday cake topped with 25 candles – quite the gift!


Introducing RussellWe got to meet their new Cocker Spaniel, Russell, and hear positive reports about how our Baron was doing. When I expressed guilt over leaving him with Mom and Dad, Mary insisted we not worry, describing how much Mom loved having a dog again. But a note in Mom’s diary hinted otherwise:

Tom enjoys the Baron – but he is work and concern for me.

By the end of the day, we’d caught up on all the news from home, and best of all had been able to “see” our first nephew/niece by way of Mary’s expanding tummy. To me it was an absolute wonder – a real live baby was about to join our all-adult family. Almost too good to be true!

LeavingAs they pulled away close to 10:00 PM, we calculated they wouldn’t get home till the wee hours – and were grateful they’d stayed so long. But watching their taillights disappear was torture for me. Our foursome was relatively new, and we longed to spend more time together. But distance (and Nate’s 7-day-a-week paper route) kept us apart.


Nate and I lingered on our building’s front porch long after they’d left, appreciating the song of crickets and the balmy summer night. But I was missing my sister already. “Where do you think we’ll end up after graduation?” I said. “Maybe in the Chicago area? Like… close to Mary and Bervin?”

Mary with Corvette“No promises,” Nate said. “It’ll all depend on where I can get the best job.”

But as we climbed the stairs my last thought was, “Chicago’s a really big city. Surely there’s one good job there for Nate.”

“Lord… you hold my future.” (Psalm 16:5)

Newlywed Love (#80)

July 28-31, 1970

Nate and I were learning that taking on a pet was a bigger commitment than we thought… especially a dog. We were both keen on keeping commitments in general, and part of that was doing the work connected to them. Tossing that to someone else made it their commitment, and that’s what we’d done to Mom and Dad with sweet Baron.

But we tabled those thoughts to tend to more urgent matters: selling the Mustang, finding an economical vehicle, studying hard, and running Nate’s paper route. This job, which began with such promise, had morphed into a disaster. Though Nate had faithfully made his deliveries, never missing a day, he hadn’t made a nickel.

Courier officeAt the end of the first week, his boss told him something he had probably purposely withheld: payment would come only as his customers paid him. At the office he showed Nate how to hand-write the bills on a payment envelope and band them to the papers once a week.

The problem was, virtually none of his customers actually paid. He had to walk up to each house, usually at dinner time when people were home, and plead for the money. It didn’t take long to learn that once a product had been received, a buyer was reluctant to pay for it.

This felt even worse than failing to sell pots and pans. After all, the people on his paper route had already agreed to buy the product. Worst of all, Nate had had to pay up front for all the newspapers, purchasing each bundle before going on his route. He also had to pay for the required rubber bands, and these expenses had up-ended our meager budget.

DollarsOne evening after delivering papers every day for almost 4 weeks, he returned empty from another bill-collecting trip. His frustration had reached the boiling point, and he erupted. “I’m basically giving the gift of a  free Courier subscription to each one of my customers – every week!” He stomped back and forth in his own protest march while venting his anger. “And then they slam doors in my face when I ask them to pay what they owe!”

“Well,” I said, trying to be positive, “you’ve collected $70 so far. At least that’s something.”

“But that went toward paying for papers and rubber bands!” he said. “And my boss is mad, because we’re still in the hole with him.” Nate was right, of course. It was a big mess.

In one last effort to lift his spirits I said, “Well, we may be poor, but at least we’re happy.”

Even as I said it, we both knew it was only half true. But there was one genuinely hopeful development – the Mustang. People were responding to our ad, several had come to see it, and two seemed almost ready to buy. “Maybe we can get a bidding war going over our polluted little car,” I said, hoping Nate would laugh at such an absurdity.

But he didn’t even smile.

“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)