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September 02, 2004 - Thursday, 11:31 a.m.
Mom called me last night from a bed and breakfast outside of Boston about 60 miles in Maine. Due to a large supply of frequent flyer miles they decided on a trip to Nova Scotia for 2 weeks. They flew into Boston yesterday afternoon and then drove up to Maine.
Boston. My parents married 45 years ago this summer. What a nice way to celebrate!!
It was the winter of 1957, my dad, Don, was a junior at NDSU (North Dakota State University) campus. The Winter Formal was coming up and he didn’t have a date. As was common in those days, the men from the NDSU campus, called to the dorms at the Moorhead State (Minnesota) Campus. NDSU was an agricultural and engineering college, with a heavy male population. Where Moorhead State was a teachers college and was heavily populated with girls. On this fateful day he called up the dorm where my mother, Jeanette, lived. The girl answering the phone called out on the floor, “Who wants to go to the Theta Chi Winter Formal?” Jeanette said to her friend, "We don't know any Theta Chis why don't we go?" Jeanette said to the girl on the phone, "Ask him if wants to talk to a blonde or brunette." She asked Don the question. His response? “A brunette.” That was my mother. When Jeanette talked to Don they realized that they’d met before when she had been dating Don’s roommate. They went to the Winter Formal but then really didn't date again.
Their college careers continued when in the spring of 1959, Jeanette went to a dance and Don was there. He asked her to dance and then asked if he could call her. Jeanette agreed. They began dating and by the end of that semester Don asked Jeanette to marry him. Jeanette had a summer job lined up at the Air Force Base in Minot and a contract to teach in the fall in Circle Pines, Minnesota. She felt that they should wait a year, and Don agreed. After graduation Don drove Jeanette back home to the farm near Velva. They said their goodbyes and he went back to Hunter, near Fargo with every intention of leaving for his new job assignment in Boston.
The morning after Don left, Jeanette got a call telling her that her summer job had fallen through. She sat at the kitchen table, at the farm, pondering what to do and talked to her mother. Her father had died in January of 1959, and my grandmother was still feeling that loss very strongly. As Jeanette spoke to her mother about what lay ahead, my grandmother told her, “Marriage and life go by very quickly, if you want to get married, then get married. Why wait if this is what you want?” This advice was very different from the advice she’d given Beverly, my mother’s sister, at 18. At that moment in time she’d said, “Marriage is for a very long time, think long and hard before you make this choice.”
Jeanette called Don on the phone and told him she had changed her mind and wonder if he still wanted to get married before he left for Boston. He said, “Of course.” He said he needed to be in Boston by Monday morning to report for his new job. Don had just gotten to Hunter but he turned right around and came back to Minot. It was Wednesday. They drove out to the farm and told Jeanette's mother they needed to be married Friday night. It was a challenge Grandma was up to. So within three days grandma, my Mother and Father pulled together to make the wedding happen.
Two of my cousins, Chelle and Laurie, were staying at the farm and both were quite young (around 5 and 6 years old). Don and Jeanette had been driving around all day running errands with these two. When Chelle, leaning forward on the front seat said, “Hey Jeanette, who are you marrying anyway?”
Don’s brother Dale, his wife Phyllis and Dad's mother made it to the wedding. Jeanette’s brother, Wayne, escorted her down the aisle. It was common in this country neighborhood to issue no invitations to weddings. They just announced it in the paper and anyone and everyone was welcome to attend. Even on such short notice the church was overflowing. They were married 7:30 p.m., June 5, 1959 at North Prairie Lutheran Church, near Simcoe, North Dakota. Their reception dinner was at the Riverside in Minot. That night they headed out on Highway 2 for Boston. They made it as far as Towner, North Dakota the first night. It was a beautiful trip along Highway 2. Highway 2 heads east out of North Dakota and across northern Minnesota, it snakes by Duluth, then through northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Here they crossed into Canada and traveled across Canada, returning to the United States at Champagne, New York and headed south through Vermont to Boston.
They arrived in Boston early on Monday morning. The company in Boston had hired a number of NDSU graduates. Most of the other guys had headed out early with their wives, if they were married. One of the other couple’s had lined up a furnished apartment for my parents and by the end of that day they were at home, beginning their new life at 111 School Street, South Acton, MA.
From ‘let’s wait a year to get married” to getting married in three days, what a life-changing week that was!
In a side note, I was a honeymoon baby, born ten months after my parents married. Had they stayed with their original plan, I’d have never been born.