Newlywed Love (#111)

October 23-25, 1970

Nate’s lengthy Estate Planning memo was due on October 23 – a thick document he’d worked on from mid-summer till now. He was deep into several other classes, too, and had been pouring on the power night and day. On the 23rd when I left for school, he was proofreading one last time.

As I was about to dismiss my morning kindergarteners, he appeared at our classroom door sporting a wide grin. I knew that meant the paper was done, and ran to give him a big hug… while the children giggled at us.

“I came to take you out to a celebration lunch,” he said. It was a moment of triumph, and I was delighted he had wanted to drive 40 miles to spend it with me. When lunch was over, it was difficult to say goodbye, but duty called. And Nate had to get back to his books.

Estate planningHopefully he would graduate in January after one last batch of exams. Both of us were keyed up about the end finally being in sight. Focusing for so long on his Estate Planning paper, though, had done something special for him – peaked his interest in that field. He talked about looking for his first job at one of the many Chicago banks, in a trust department.

I got goose bumps thinking of moving back to the Chicago area, and as we talked further, the goose bumps only grew. That’s because Nate said he wanted to look at a few apartments the next time we drove through the city. I couldn’t believe it! That would be the following day, when we went north to meet Baby Luke.

As I grabbed him to dance around the room, he said, “It’s too early to commit to anything. This will be strictly for research purposes. We need to find out what Chicago apartments cost and figure out how much is too much.”

Hancock CenterNot the least bit discouraged I said, “Let’s look at the 100-story John Hancock Center,” a nearly-new building purported to be the second tallest in the world. I’d heard it was one-third offices, one-third apartments, and one-third parking. And right on Lake Michigan’s beautiful shore!

After entertaining six friends on Friday evening, we got up early Saturday and headed for Chicago – and the John Hancock Center. It was a rude awakening to find out the only way to live there was to buy your apartment, and the prices were exorbitant!

We traveled north along Sheridan Road, stopping at several more buildings, all on Lake Michigan. Our research showed us that we wouldn’t be able to afford a high-rise or lakefront apartment at all but would have to settle for something “lower” (in terms of floors) and “farther” (away from the lake).

And there was one other factor, something that might have powerful sway over where we lived after graduation: The Army.

The ArmyWe knew at a minimum Nate would have to go on active duty for the summer, but depending on what I would be doing, we hoped we could still live together – whether in Chicago or at one of the many military posts across the land.

But only time would tell.

“My times are in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:15)

Newlywed Love (#93)

August 31, 1970

 

After an exhilarating first day with my kindergarteners, I was unprepared for what I found when I walked into the apartment. Nate was on the phone in a highly stressed conversation. The discussion was heated, and I couldn’t figure out who might be on the line with him.

He nodded at me when I came in, but his expression of anger didn’t change. As I put my things down, he said, “But you can’t do that! It just isn’t fair!” I knew he must be talking to someone connected with his paper route, probably a disgruntled, non-paying customer.

ComplainingSince the very beginning Nate had received several phone calls a day, each with a complaint. “My paper was damp.” Or, “My paper fell from the delivery tube.” Or, “Why can’t you deliver the paper to my porch?”

The complaints never stopped, but worse than that, after many weeks of faithful, timely deliveries, Nate had earned precious little money.

 

As he continued on the phone, I walked up behind him and put my arms around his waist – always magical for us both. But today it didn’t work. As the conversation ended, he banged down the phone and turned around.

“A customer?” I said, stepping back.

“Boss-man.”

“About what?”

Once again Nate was behind in paying the Courier office for his newspapers since so many customers didn’t pay him. The money from paid accounts went toward our bills, but that meant falling behind with the office. And this time his boss made a threat.

$170.00“You owe us $170, buddy, [$1100 today] and if you don’t pay up, we’re going to take bond card action on you.”

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but whatever it was, it made Nate furious. “If they pull a stunt like that,” he said, “it could prevent me from joining the Bar Association or something worse, down the road.”

It was shocking to hear they had that kind of power over him when nothing his boss had promised about the job had come to be. “I just want to quit,” he said, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

Upset“Well,” I said, “I’ll make some coffee, and let’s talk about it. Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.”

He told me he’d tried to give blood again for the $25, but the clinic had turned him down, saying they had a full supply at the moment. That meant I couldn’t give either.

As we talked we focused on the question of quitting and decided to wait a day or two before deciding. That night I wrote about it in my journal:

I don’t know whether to encourage and urge enthusiasm to forge ahead, or to sympathize and urge to quit and “not think about it.” I wonder about all of this.

The journal

Nate didn’t eat much dinner and was up and down all night stressing about how to end the nightmare. Watching him suffer convinced me he should give notice and quit – though we’d still have to find a way to pay the $170.

“My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me.” (Job 30:27)

Newlywed Love (#87)

August 12, 1970

 

Lynn and kitty.Before I waved goodbye to Lynn (left), I called Mom and Dad. They were fresh back from their Canadian vacation and enthusiastically invited me over – anxious to share pictures and stories.

When I arrived, my thoughts were on our Baron, and I couldn’t wait to cuddle him again. So when I walked in, it was upsetting that he didn’t appear. “Where’s our puppy-dog?” I said, feeling nervous.

“When we left for Canada,” Mom said, “the plan was to drop him at Mary and Bervin’s to spend the week playing with Russell. But Tom said his good friend David who adores Baron, as you know, had asked if he couldn’t please keep him instead. With Russell still trying to get used to his new home, we thought that arrangement would be best.”

So Baron was in Chicago, and though I knew David well and trusted him completely, it was a disappointment. Mom and Dad were planning to retrieve him as soon as they next went into the city. Maybe it was good they didn’t have to care for him for a few days.

The giversMeanwhile, Mom was bubbling over with the joys of their Keswick trip and wanted to share every detail. Dad, too, had positive comments about their time away. Over an afternoon snack of cheese, toast, and grapes, I caught up with all their news and was glad I’d come.

 

 

Then, just when the conversation gave me an opening to bring up our problematic Mustang, Dad took the floor again. “Your Ma and I bought a birthday present for you. It’s for Nate, too.” I found it unusual that Dad mentioned a birthday gift, since that was Mom’s department.

Then without pausing he said, “We bought you a Fiat.”

“What?” I said, completely stunned.

Before I could think straight enough to respond, he continued. “The dealer says he’ll take the Mustang off your hands, too. I told him all about the fumes, but he still gave us credit for it — eager to seal the deal, I guess.”

I was astounded. What a gift! Nate would be shocked, too!

More than likely Dad reasoned it would have been many years before we could have paid him back for the car, and we still owed for the Mustang (a debt he let stand). Whatever his thought process had been, I was grateful for it! He assured me he’d given matching funds to Mary and Tom to “keep things even,” and they, too, had been surprised and overjoyed.

Our mid-afternoon table-talk ended with, “You can drive it home tonight if we can get there before closing.”

Dad and I hurried out to the Mustang, and with wind whistling through open windows, made it in time. When they brought the Fiat around front for us, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a twin to the one Nate and I had ogled-over in Champaign — black convertible top with hunter green body.

The new car

I decided not to warn Nate ahead of time so he could receive the same wonderful, whopping surprise I had. And I could hardly wait!

“The Lord brought me out into a spacious place.” (Psalm 18:19)