We met in High School
It was the class of 1953 at Salem High School in Salem, Ohio. I had always attended Salem schools, but Ken lived in North Georgetown, OH, a little farming community just south and west of Salem. He had always gone to little country schools, then to United for Jr. High school. We didn’t know each other until one evening in our Sophomore year when we both joined our friends in our high school gym for the GAA dance. (Girl’s Athletic Association) We had a square dance that night with some slow dances in between. He asked me to dance after being urged on by his good friend, Dale Powell. Soon after, he asked me to go to a barn dance at Guilford Lake. He didn’t have his own car, so we double dated with his brother, Harold, and his girlfriend, JoAnn. Square dances had a caller and led dancers to join hands, swing your partner, etc. and, of course, ‘steal a little kiss from your little miss’, so that was our first kiss – a quick one it had to be as the dance moved right along.
We visited at my locker each morning, and double dated until Ken got his own car our junior year. He was offered a job by my father in his welding shop, so needed a car to get to work. He had been helping his dad with the farm work, but had really bad hay fever, so decided to take the job offer. My dad had taken a real liking to Ken and took him on and taught him everything he could about the welding business. The welding shop was behind our house, so I got to see him almost every day during the summer of 1952 and 1953. Then I made the decision to go away to college, which he did not take too easily. I would be going to Ohio Wesleyan with the scholarship I had received from Salem High School – for 4 years. That seemed like an eternity to both of us for Ohio Wesleyan was quite a trip down old Rt 62 in those days. I wouldn’t be coming home every weekend like students often do now. Maybe I would get home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
Our summer dates were Friday and Saturday nights. I worked at Jean Frocks in Salem, and Ken would pick me up at work to go to the movies (usually at the State Theater in Salem), or dancing at The Barn or at Pointview (on the way to Canfield). When we went dancing I took my crinolines and square dancing skirt to work with me and changed into them when the store closed.
But soon I was saying good-bye to my folks and to Ken when we unpacked my things at my dorm in Delaware, OH. Phone calls were few and far between since there was always a toll charge on long distance calls. But Ken wrote often, and so did I. He came to visit from time to time and came for some of our sorority dances, homecoming, etc.
We both tried dating others for a short while, but soon he brought a beautiful diamond ring with him and after one of the dances, as we sat in the car outside my dorm, he asked me to become his wife. I took my turn getting thrown into the shower when my dorm friends saw my ring. That made it official!!
Planning a wedding at such a distance wasn’t easy, but Easter vacation was all the time we had in my senior year to find a dress, choose bridesmaids’ dresses, give my mother some idea of what I wanted for a cake, flowers, etc. She did all the rest, for just one week after my graduation our wedding took place. Of course, we did not have the kind of wedding that young people have today. We had a simple Sunday afternoon wedding at the Salem First United Methodist Church, with Rev. Snowball officiating. Simple vases of gladiolas, a bible, and some candles graced the altar. I carried a small, lace covered white bible with a beautiful orchid with ribbons attached. This orchid was pinned on my going-away dress when we left for our short honeymoon.
There was a lot of rain with thunder and lightning which I could hear over the music of our organist, Homer Taylor, as I walked down the aisle on the arm of my dear dad. It seemed such a long time to get to this special time in our lives, and the tears flowed like the rain outside as we got to the end of our ceremony. The happiness was overwhelming. I remember the photographer asking why I was crying.
The reception, which was in the fellowship hall of our church was simple with cake, ice cream, nuts, mints, and punch. We opened gifts as the entertainment of the day! That’s what most couples did in those days to celebrate their marriage. No dancing, and no alcohol. The money my father would have spent on a fancy reception like couples have today, was instead going into building us our house which is still my home today.
Our honeymoon took us to West Virginia. We stayed in a cabin for two nights at Oglebay Park, then returned home on Tuesday where our new house was being built. Our house was my dad’s big project. He was a builder at heart!! But that is a whole ‘other’ story! We had finally taken the first big step into the future together never doubting that it would ‘last’. It lasted, indeed, for 54 years until he had his fatal stroke. It lasted through all the years that we worked together every day at our gallery. Our 60 th anniversary would have been this very day that I am writing our ‘love story’.