Early on Saturday, Jan. 30, 1971, I was at the Christian Serviceman’s Center, in Portsmouth, Va., getting ready to go to a Beatles’ movie fest. A downtown theater was showing all four Beatles movies, back to back, and I was going to binge. Somewhere around 9:00 or 9:30, the phone rang, and so I answered for the Director; it was a Navy corps Wave, newly stationed at the Naval Hospital, calling for directions to the Center. I gave her directions, telling her the hours of the Center, and we ended up talking for an hour.
That evening, a pretty young Wave came to the center to check the place out, and see what kind of services the Serviceman’s Center offered. I had returned from the moviefest, and introduced myself. Apparently I did not make a good impression, as I was wearing wrinkled jeans and needed a shave. What can I say? It was 1970, I was in the Navy, but wanted to be a hippie. The upshot was that, in her mind, while she was pleased I was a Christian, she told herself, “Uh-uh, no way. Not him.”
That next week, my ship went on a month-long exercise cruise, and so I didn’t see her until the end of February. I was impressed with her, however, and so when we got sent to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, I bought her a small bottle of boutique perfume. On the ship’s return, I went back to my weekend hangout and abode, the Center, and met the young Wave, again. This time, I was better dressed (well, maybe not rumpled?) and we spent a long time talking. And I gave her the perfume.
And for March and April, we found ourselves spending our weekends together, going to church together, and finding excuses to be away from the others at the Center. Together. Over those two months, our relationship grew, and so I asked her if she would be willing to take a day’s leave so we could sight-see together. I had decided to ask her to marry me.
On Wednesday, April 28, as we were browsing in a bookstore, I was trying to work up the nerve to ask her, when the woman who owned the shop asked, “Are you two married?” Seeing my opportunity, I quickly spoke up and said, “No, but we hope to be.” The pretty young Wave looked at me askance, but didn’t say anything. After we ate, we went back to the Center, and as I was tuning the guitar, I asked her, “Are you thinking about what I said in the bookstore?”
“Yes,” she replied, with a quizzical expression on her face.
“I meant it. Will you marry me?”
“I’m going to need to pray about it,” she replied, and with that, she went into another room and was gone for a while. When she came back, I was still fiddling around with the guitar; when she sat down, I looked at her and asked, “Well?”
Two months later, Friday, July 2, 1971, we were married. Forty-four years ago, today. So please bear with me if I engage in a little self-congratulatory behavior and delight in our marriage, my wife and our life.