Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 6): Oceans Apart

I'm interrupting my own childhood memories to write about the beginnings of a long relationship- that of my Mom and her second husband, who I would come to know as "Dad".  I am writing this from the memories of my Dad, though my Mom briefly told the same story many years ago.  

Modern technology has provided us with wireless home phones, pagers, cellular phones, ear phones, and iphones. We can communicate with anyone at anytime around the globe. Some would say we are very fortunate to have these great amenities in our modern lives.

Things were quite different in 1960. Most households in the south were not furnished with even a simple home telephone. If they were fortunate enough to have a home phone, it was usually tied into a "party line" which means the phone line was shared with a neighbor or two. International calls were impossible to make from the rural homes of south Mississippi. Therefore, letters were written and mailed.

So it was with my Mom. She began writing to a young man whom was then in the Navy. Frank was from her hometown and was a "friend of a friend". He had come home on a 30-day leave from the service. On his very first day at home, a weekend night, he received a call from his sister asking him to accompany her and a gentleman friend to a club in Bogalusa which was about an hour drive away. Frank was hesitant, reminding her that he had just returned home and furthermore did not want to be the "odd" one in a group of three. Minutes later, Frank's sister called again, this time convincing him to go out that night since she had arranged a "blind date" for him. This "blind date" was none other than my Mom. Apparently, she was fortunate enough to find a babysitter that night.

The date between my Mom and this gentleman that night was only the beginning of a new relationship. During the next few weeks, Mom went on several dates with Frank, taking me along on most of them. I was there, between them, as they went on dates to the drive-in movies and theatres, fairs and restaurants. Their time together would pass all too quickly. As Frank prepared to return to duty, he vowed he would stay in touch with Mom.

Thus the letters began. The letters that would become longer and more frequent....words that expressed how much they missed each other and longed to be together. As their feelings for each other grew, they began writing about commitments and a future together. The only thing that separated them then was distance, for they were oceans apart.

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