Once upon a time there was a girl who lived in a small town. She was very smart and she often was chosen to represent her school in county academic events. There she met other kids from the county who were also excelling. She was shy, so she didn’t talk to everyone, but she knew most of them by sight. This girl worked hard and received a scholarship to a prestigious university in her state. Though most of the other students at her university were debutantes or daughters of rich businessmen, this girl had to work hard each summer to provide money to cover all of the various costs not included in her scholarship. Every summer, she worked as a waitress in a thruway restaurant.
At the same time, there was a boy following much the same path. He was from a small town in the same county. He also attended academic events and got to know kids throughout the area, if not by name, at least by face. When the time came, he too received a scholarship to an excellent college in the state. Ever popular, he had a girlfriend whose sister worked as a waitress in a thruway restaurant.
And so the stage was set for the girl and the boy to meet. Although they had seen each other many times over the years at those county events, they had never talked to each other.
One day, the boy came in to the restaurant to chat with his girlfriend’s sister. She was working the same station as that girl. He said, “Hey, aren’t you from ______ ?” She answered yes and asked him if he weren’t from ___________. They started chatting. Over the summer, he visited the restaurant many times. By fall, when they both went back to their respective schools, he had broken up with that girlfriend. In that first semester, he managed to get that girl’s address and he wrote her a letter.
They exchanged a few letters and arranged to go on a date. That was the beginning of my parent’s romance. They dated steadily through their last two years of college. They enjoyed spending time with each others’ families. They made up silly names for themselves and for their parents. Dad and his mother were Stanley and Stella Strobinsky. Mom was Rose Pudereski and her parents were Chester and Sophie. It was nuts, but those names stayed with them for years into their marriage.
This was all during the Vietnam War. In the beginning of Dad’s senior year, he was given notice that he had been reclassified from a 2S (student deferral) to a 1A (which meant his number was up and he was going to be drafted). He went to the Air Force recruiter and took a bunch of tests and was finally accepted to enter OTS (officer training school) after he graduated that June. He originally thought he couldn’t be married as a young Air Force officer, but found out that it was not a problem. He decided to propose at Christmas time.
Dad bought Mom an engagement ring and put it in a small wrapped box. Then, he put it in a larger wrapped box and so on and so on until he had a really large box to put under the tree at Mom’s house. On Christmas morning, Mom had eleven boxes to open before she finally got to the small one containing Dad’s ring. All Mom could say was “Ooooh!” over and over. Of course, she said yes and six months later, they were married in a little white church in a small town.
This Christmas will mark forty-four years since Dad proposed.