Newlywed Love (#51)

April 9, 1970

Our buildingThese newlywed days were very special for Nate and me. Both of us realized it was a unique year, one we wanted to fully appreciate as we moved through it.

We planned to live in our apartment until the summer of 1971 (more than a year away).  But during that year, many life-directing decisions would have to be made, and we sensed that as we left Champaign, our blissful bubble might burst. Life might continue to be good, we reasoned, but how could it be THIS good?

Living roomNo matter where we would end up after law school, though, we were sure our little home on the 3rd floor of 620 W. Healey Street would always be a precious part of our history.

It was August of 1969 when we first began feathering the nest there. I had moved in after leaving Chicago, bringing very little with me. But 4 months later, a pile of wedding gifts had changed all that, and suddenly we owned all kinds of things.

Now, 4 additional months later, several furniture contributions were coming our way. Aunt Agnes was donating some of her things, and my folks were cleaning out their basement. The youth pastor was moving and blessing us with more.

As different items arrived, I found myself more and more interested in making our home attractive. Even though rearranging furniture wasn’t Nate’s forte’, he was appreciative of my efforts and was glad we actually had furniture to move around.

Living rmAfter the big things had found their places, I splurged on a few candles and some fake flowers. My 1st graders supplied wall art, and I made a giant wall hanging with glue and pom-poms (right). Winding thread around nails in geometric patterns gave us other things to hang, along with favorite photos. When we were done, the whole place looked homey.

Both of us loved returning to our little nest each day, and it was sad to think we might only be there one more year. Whenever moving day finally did come, we knew it would be a struggle to say goodbye.

The kitchenThat’s why, after everything was set up to our liking, we decided to take a roll of pictures, wanting never to forget the details of this special place and our first year of marriage.





Small photo albumThe picture-taking process was a lark. Many of the photos we took that night were not of our apartment but of each other, some of them slightly inappropriate for public viewing. But we hoped to have enough appropriate pictures to fill a small album.

After we ran out of film, Nate set the camera aside, picked me up, and spun me around. When he stopped, his face wore a solemn expression. He locked eyes with me, and I wondered what he was going to say.

“You know something? You’re really nice.” He was looking at me as if he’d just met me, right then.

Precious days indeed….

“You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)

Newlywed Love (#41)

March 14, 1970

Nate and I loved having company from “home,” especially when it was our closest friends. My long-term pal Lynn (we’d met as pre-teens) had begun dating a guy she’d met in Chicago some months before. Lynn and I had been together when she and Don had first connected, and “sparking” happened immediately.

Don was a career Army officer and had already been to Vietnam and back. He was a captain in charge of many other men and knew how to fly helicopters. All of this impressed Lynn and I, and Don seemed very brave. Though he was soft-spoken and humble, we’d both been in awe that night.

LynnIt wasn’t too many months before Lynn was moving to Georgia where Don was based. Thankfully, Champaign was on their route south, so they stopped at our apartment for 24 hours. Lynn and I were elated to be together again, and our men had no lack of things to talk about, having the Army in common.

That evening after dinner, we pulled out the movie projector we’d received as a wedding gift, and Nate, never having operated a projector before, left it up to me.

After several false starts, it began working, and we showed the first movie – a small reel of 50 feet – on a blank white wall.

Lynn with the reelOur Super 8 camera had been going steadily since our wedding, recording movies of everyone who came and went (along with lots of footage of ourselves). Unfortunately in trying to show the films, we often met with jam-ups and other discouraging failures.

This night, however, the first reel flowed nicely, and we howled at the people dancing around on our dining room wall. The biggest laugh, however, came when we turned the lights back on.

Movies gone badThat’s when we learned the reason for such free-flowing film. All 50 feet were in a tangled heap on the floor beneath the table.

When bedtime came, Nate suggested Lynn be on the Murphy bed and Don on the living room couch. What they did after lights out would be up to them.

Both of us were growing to love Don, and once we were settled into bed ourselves, Nate and I talked about the possibility of a marriage in their future.

Movie cameraThe next morning after breakfast it was time to say goodbye. Nate got the movie camera clicking, and we hoped they’d be back to see the developed film sooner rather than later.

But after they pulled away I slipped my hand into Nate’s and said, “I have a funny feeling Lynn will never be back.” Knowing I was having a sad thought, he put his arm around me and squeezed tight.

As we stood looking down the road where Lynn and Don had disappeared, I thought about the many rapid changes coming to us and to many of our friends. Watching Lynn leave was unsettling. But I knew my dear friend was on the same romantic high I’d been on in 1969 just before Nate and I got engaged. Because of that, she wasn’t sad at all.

So…. how could I be anything but happy for her?

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.” (Numbers 6:24-25)

Newlywed Love (#32)

February 13-14, 1970

Since the first of the year, I had been chipping away at writing thank you notes for the hundreds of wedding gifts Nate and I had been blessed to receive. Although my original goal was to write 5 of them each evening (with more on weekends), I couldn’t keep up that pace. And though I had long since ditched that goal, little by little I was actually making progress.

Valentines DayThe week before Valentine’s Day, I was highly motivated to be extra diligent in my note-writing…. because Mom and Dad were coming.

I knew Mom would ask how many thank you’s I’d written so far. Most of our gifts had come from friends in her generation, and timely thank you’s were a must. People needed to know their gift had been received and that it was appreciated.

Earlier in the week a letter had come from her, detailing their weekend arrival and departure schedule. She had also written a few encouraging lines about my thank you notes:

“Many, many people tell me they are receiving “unusual” letters of thanks from you, Margaret. You’d be amazed at what the difference is when a bit of extra is put into such notes. You would be greatly surprised at how many people have mentioned your letters to me.”

Mom's letter

I had to admit I was giving the process my all, more for Mom than the recipients of the notes. Not wanting to disappoint her, I had taken up her challenge to put something personal into each one. And it did make me feel better than if I’d written generically – though it took a great deal longer.

Nate was my faithful cheerleader and sometimes stood next to me, asking to read a note aloud. His laudatory comments and nonstop appreciation spurred me on. And he was especially tickled if he read a note thanking for any gift made of “monkey pod wood” — something new and popular at the time for salad bowls and their utensils.

If he came across those 3 words, “monkey pod wood,” inevitably he would double over with laughter so intense he’d have to brush tears away. Then his laughter would make me laugh, and the silly joke was so potent I didn’t dare use our monkey pod salad bowls if guests were over. It became one of those inside jokes between a husband and wife that no one else understood, a little secret between just the two of us.

First time fondueWhen Mom and Dad came, they brought Aunt Agnes, and we introduced the three of them to the art of fondue. It was hilarious watching their expressions as we explained how dinner was going to be made.

And as they got into the process, their focus on cooking was intense. We all laughed each time a chunk of food would slip from their forks and disappear into the oil. When that happened, their comments were side-splitting funny. Aunt Agnes spent most of the meal on her feet, standing guard over the pieces of her dinner.

Ice CapadesThe next day we took them to the university arena where we saw the Ice Capades, a new show none of us had ever seen. Although Mom thought the girls’ costumes left too much flesh exposed, she had to admit the skating was phenomenal.

After that mid-afternoon performance, they had to hightail it back to Wilmette for evening commitments there, and Nate and I chalked up another happy connection with our relatives.

Although we forfeited our privacy whenever people visited, we had a lifetime to enjoy each other and knew we shouldn’t be selfish about sharing our lives and our home. Besides, it was always so much fun after guests were gone to once again be alone — together.

“Don’t forget to do good and to share…. These are the sacrifices that please God.” (Hebrews 13:16)