Those were the days when it was likely that you would meet the person you would eventually marry in college. This is a story of persistence, love, and longevity.
In March 1963, of my last and senior year of college, I met my eventual wife. The event was at a bar called BEN’S Tavern. Ben’s has since burned down. I was there along with another fraternity brother and about 10 pledges after a fraternity work session.
While buying the pledges a soft drink or beer, I noticed that my younger fraternity brother was sitting in a dark corner of the bar talking to three young ladies. Now in my fraternity culture, it would be discourteous to not invite an older “brother” over to the table. I just walked over and invited myself. I was attracted to one called Rosemary.
After talking a half hour or so, we noticed the other two ladies and my fraternity brother had left the bar. Perhaps they were bored by our conversation. In any case, after making sure the pledges knew how to get back to the fraternity house, I talked Rosemary (who everyone else called Rosie) into walking back across campus to get my car. Along the way we noticed that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was playing at the State Street movie theater. We got my car and I drove Rosemary back to her apartment which was on the same side of campus as BEN’S. The next night I invited her to go see “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Saturday. She accepted.
That date was followed shortly by a formal dance at the fraternity and subsequent dates until I graduated in early June. I was slated to go a management training program at ATT Long Lines in Chicago. Then at the end of June I left for active duty in Lompoc, California at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. There I was to serve at the 6595th Aerospace Test Wing for the next three and one-half years.
Rosemary did not graduate until December 1963. We kept in touch by letter, phone and one telegram. The phone bills became very expensive — forty percent of my air force income for the year was spent on long distance phone calls.
While I was in Chicago, Rosemary went with a friend during summer break to New York City to tour and plan to move to New York to work in a hospital there.
In September I returned home in route to Philadelphia. I stopped at home. I persuaded Rosemary to come visit California with the intent of potential marriage. In November while at home for Thanksgiving I went to meet Rosemary’s family and asked her father if I could marry her. I also took Rosemary to meet my parents and extended family.
By Christmas Rosemary had started to receive job offers from hospitals in Santa Barbara. I had gone to those hospitals to interview for a job for her. In January Rosemary packed her possessions in boxes and moved one hundred forty-four pounds to Santa Barbara on a Greyhound bus.
She was met in the bus station by the director of nursing of Santa Barbara General Hospital. I was unable to meet her because we were working at the base around the clock because we didn’t have enough engineers. I was forgiven for not meeting her and finally carried on our courtship in February. We married in Ohio in September. We spent our honeymoon at the New York World’s Fair. The rest is history — three sons, Craig, Erik, and Dan; eight grandchildren — Madeline, Turner, Joe, Lily, Hannah, Haley, Ben and Dani. It is fifty-five years later and by the grace of God I made the right choice and I would do it all again.
Contributed by: Bruce Hume
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