Mama and Daddy married October 17, 1937 in Silsbee, TX. The old house was there for many years – across from the cemetery – south of Highway 327. Last time I passed by it was still there – although renovated.
They met the year before they married and soon began to write back and forth – as folks tended to do as telephones not always available. Their letters were polite at first, progressed to romantic to downright steamy. One comment by my dad made me laugh. He referred to the moonlight in my Mom’s hair. I can not imagine the crusty old couple I came to know and love ever thinking such thoughts.
Dad lived at home with his parents in Old Nona – south of Kountze and Mom lived with her Mom and siblings in Silsbee. They decided to make it a permanent union and did so – with a honeymoon in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The home I live in they purchased along with five acres of land from Mr. Pitts for $1,000 in 1938. He used his new found cash to move to California and train as a diesel mechanic. The original home was smaller and was located on the highway. It was moved to its current location in 1955 following eminent domain by the county. Another bedroom and den was added. My early memories of sliding in the halls, straining to reach the light switch in the bathroom reminds me of the certainty of growth.
The family grew – my brother was born in 1942 and my sister in 1945. I followed during the last years of President Truman’s administration – in 1951. Daddy worked in the Hardin County tax office and later was elected as Hardin County Tax Assessor. Mama wrote for the Beaumont Enterprise as a local correspondent. She was paid by the inch. I won’t touch that. My parents created a comfortable home for us. The wooded acres prime property for children with imaginations. My friends and I often played in the maze of brush and trees – pretended to be on some far away island in search of hidden treasure.
In 1962 my sister wanted to honor Mama and Daddy with a surprise 25th wedding anniversary. She did her best to keep it a secret but in the end I believe the cat got out of the bag. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to enjoy the festivities as the black and white photos indicate.
By the time Mama and Daddy’s 50th wedding anniversary arrived in 1987 I was living in Houston but worked with my sister and brother to honor our parents and did so in style. The First Baptist church was the back drop and friends, family attended. A lovely cake as created by Grace Roberts was the show case of the event. My niece and a second cousin served punch. Photos were taken and gifts opened.
The day was sunny – and all the more so as my dad’s only living sibling Aunt Flora Mae attended. She and her son Johnny drove over from Conroe – posed for photos. My cousin Vickie, her husband David and Mama’s brother Thomas also attended. Other friends filled the church. It was an honor to witness long time friends reconnecting, most likely for the last time. Their hugs sincerely and deeply felt.
Just as I soon grew to reach the light switch in the bath room so did life make us all stretch and grow. Within two years my Aunt Flora Mae had died. Her son Johnny followed in 1992. Mama died in 2000 and Daddy in 2002. Had Mama lived a few more months they would celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. Would have? So many would haves in our lives.
Life also gives one wisdom – sage reasoning – often acquired through a variety of experiences. I look at my parents’ photos from that 50th anniversary and remember. The shadows crept over the church and the wind picked up. Leaves were scattered and crunched beneath my feet. I remembered when my friends and I would hunt for hidden treasure in the woods. We did not have to look far. My parents were waiting at the house. Mom had cooked a hot meal and Dad would have a joke or two to tell my friends. My parents were the treasure and I did not realize it.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MAMA AND DADDY!