Young Love (#116)

November 17, 1969

Our school days were busy and went by fast as Nate and I moved through the last full week before a short Thanksgiving week – which would culminate in our wedding!

Although my heart wasn’t always in my classroom work, I loved recess – the perfect time to get rid of all the excess energy I seemed to have. Sometimes I found myself running around like a first-grader, happy to race the kids in games of “Red Rover Come Over” and “Steal the Bacon.”

Merry-go-roundThen one day we had a playground crisis that could have ended in the death of one of my first graders. Our playground had an old merry-go-round that was popular with all the children. On that day, after the girls had all scrambled on board, the boys got the merry-go-round spinning at full speed.

The kids were all squealing with delight when suddenly a little girl’s dress somehow got caught in the center wheel of the merry-go-round. With each revolution the fabric pulled tighter around her neck, and none of the other children noticed.

FullSizeRender(6)Linda’s class and mine shared playground time, and as she and I stood chatting, the merry-go-round wasn’t in her line of vision…. but it was in mine. As it continued to spin, the little girl’s air supply was being cut off tighter and tighter. In a few seconds she was going to be unconscious – and possibly choke to death.

As my brain finally kicked in and I realized what was happening, I bolted toward the merry-go-round yelling for the boys to stop pushing. Together we wrenched the heavy thing to a stop, and I jumped on. With one hand I grabbed the little girl out of the middle of the merry-go-round while yanking her dress up and off the center wheel with the other hand.

She took in a giant gulp of air…. and the crisis was over.

Even though she rallied quickly, I kept a close eye on her throughout the afternoon. She seemed no worse for wear, and gradually the red marks around her neck faded. I wondered if I should mention the incident to her mother —  but knew that if I did tell her, she would worry endlessly about her daughter’s safety after that.

By 3:00, I had decided to let it go by. And if this sweet little girl ever described all the merry-go-round excitement to her parents, I never heard about it.

Back at our apartment when I told Nate the story, he cautioned me to be more vigilant. And in an effort to make me take him seriously, he mentioned the possibility of law suits – as any good law student would.

But I had already learned my lesson.

“Be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1)

Young Love (#115)

November 15-16, 1969

It was the weekend – before the last weekend – before our wedding weekend! No one was happier about that than Nate and I.

I wondered how Mom’s kitchen renovation was coming along and whether or not she’d had a chance to shop for her own gown. But her diary tells the tale:

IMG_5271“Seeing is believing! Im- possible to visualize our home with a wedding soon!! Soup under piano! Refrig in living room! etc! etc!

A day later she mentioned a friend coming to help her. She wrote, I think she pities me.

But her letters to Champaign continued to be upbeat, one of them written during church while listening to a sermon by George Sweeting:

Pastor Sweeting is elaborating on the financial monopoly as revealed in Rev. 13. The older I grow – and I’ve been around too long already – the more I recognize the sheer anchor of all authority – the Bible. The Author of this Book is my Friend, and His Spirit explains His writings. Pretty good, eh?

IMG_5232At the end of the letter she said she’d heard every word of the sermon and invited me to quiz her sometime. No matter how hard Mom worked or how little sleep she got, she never lost her vitality. She must have been experiencing tremendous pressure, but she never let it show.

As for Nate and I, we joyfully prepared for our first Champaign visit from Mary and Bervin. Nate volunteered to get the groceries while I did the cleaning. After two hours when he hadn’t returned, I began to worry. But when he finally came in, he was all excited.

“Guess what!” And he held up $25 in cash, the equivalent of $150 today. For a couple that was always penny-pinching and was still short, I was flabbergasted.

“Where’d that come from?”

“The Carle Clinic,” he said. “They gave it to me for giving blood!”

Apparently he had answered an ad on the grocery store bulletin board. But despite a blood loss, he seemed hale and hearty, so I had to agree it was a great idea. “Now,” he said,  “we can go to a movie with Mary and Bervin or even out to eat if you want!” That $25 was a fortune to us, and I made a mental note to get over to the clinic myself, as soon as I could.

Bervin and Mary visitWelcoming Mary and Bervin to our little nest was extremely satisfying. Even though we’d been bumping into them in Wilmette now and then, since I moved to Champaign I’d missed my sister a great deal. She and I had been best-buds since toddlerhood, and more than that, she was my #1 confidant and advice-giver. It had been hard to be far apart for long stretches of time.

As the four of us drove around Champaign, the University of Illinois, and Allerton Park, Mary and I huddled in the back seat sharing secrets. I was about to step from singleness into marriage, and what better time to glean wisdom than from a marriage veteran of two years. It was a delightful weekend and flew by all too fast.

On Sunday evening as Nate and I stood on the front steps of our apartment building waving goodbye, my heart started to hurt. I wondered how many years Mary and I would be separated by distance. But the sadness was softened a bit by knowing she and I would soon be sharing a new kind of togetherness…. as wives.

” (Mary’s) ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” (my version of Proverbs 3:17)

Young Love (#114)

November 15, 1969

Nate and I decided to spend the weekend in Champaign. The only wedding detail left to tend to in Wilmette was the groom’s cake, and Mom said her lady-friends were looking forward to taking care of that in a few days.

Groom's cake boxesThe 104 pounds of fruit cake had arrived, and they planned to cut it into 500 pieces, wrap each one in Saran, fill the boxes, and cushion the cake with tiny strips of tissue. It sounded like lots of unnecessary work, but Mom had her heart set on sending each wedding guest home with a “favor.”

I still hadn’t picked up my wedding gown from a shop in suburban Chicago after its final alteration, but they promised it would be ready a few days before November 29. I tried not to stress about it.

There was one wedding detail, though, that Mom insisted I do her way, without even considering my opinion. Years earlier, she and Dad had been on a trip to Sweden, returning with rave reviews about what Swedish brides were wearing on their heads: small gold crowns. Since Dad was 100% Swedish and Mom was half, she had decided to bring that tradition to America – and bought a crown.

One day after Mary was engaged, Mom took us into her room and carefully pulled a blue velvet box down from her closet shelf, while briefing us on the new family tradition she was about to start. She described the pretty Swedish brides and then said, “Many of the state churches there own a crown so that any girl from the congregation can wear it on her wedding day. And guess what. We now have our very own crown!”

The crownGently she pulled it from the box to show us – a small gold headpiece with 12 large points and 12 small ones, each topped with a cultured pearl.

“Through the years,” she said, “all the brides in our extended family can wear it, and we’ll be sharing an important tradition with each other and also with our Swedish relatives.”

Mary and I looked at each other that day, unsure about whether or not we wanted to be “crowned” on our wedding days. But Mom was sure, so all we could do was smile and nod.

Mary is crowned.When Mary’s wedding day arrived in 1967 (right), she walked down the aisle with that crown on her head, and our cousin Gloria wore it again in 1968.

In 1969 it was my turn, and though I’d envisioned my veil attached to something lacy and sparkly, I followed in the cooperative footsteps of the other two brides – and agreed to wear the crown. Actually, it felt good to please Mom, after all she’d done for us.


I had only one reservation. With short hair and a veil that would be longer than my train, how was that crown going to stay on my head?

“Work at living in peace with everyone…” (Hebrews 12:14)