Our Story: 50 Years #8

Wedding Day! June 7, 1969, we said “I Do!” And we did, with all the ups and downs, joys and sorrows that go with a long marriage.

My last semester of college was a whirlwind. Every day was filled to capacity, and more. I had set up a calendar for the wedding, listing all the things I was responsible to accomplish. I have always been organized, but this was a whole new level. Graduating, planning a wedding for one week after graduation day–and I spent most weekends at home, helping out at church and spending every spare moment with Terry.

In February, the senior class had scheduled a trip to Buck Hill, in Minneapolis, to spend a day skiing. Terry was an expert skier, and he met us at what he always referred to as “Buck Bump.” You have to understand, there are no mountains in Minnesota, and Terry had skied in Aspen, Colorado many times. He’d volunteered to be on the Rescue Squad, thereby getting free ski time when he wasn’t helping people who had injured themselves. So he was going to teach me to ski that day, and I could hardly wait.

On the way home, one of the guys in the bus said to me, “You sure got along in a hurry with that ski instructor!” I laughed, held up my ring finger, and said, “Yes, we actually fell in love and got engaged!” Took him a couple moments to get it, and then he laughed too. Funny, I’d forgotten all about that until just this minute.

So. Graduation finally came, and one humongous goal was achieved.

Another crazybusy week, and suddenly THE DAY had come A few of the wedding pictures:

This picture is blurry, but can’t you see the relief on his face! No more tux, no more formality.

And, FINALLY, after Terry endured the whole wedding fuss-and-feathers, we’re off for a week in in Terry’s favorite place: The woods of northern Michigan. I liked it too, by the way. Beautiful, except for the endless rain 🙂

I think I’m going to let this be the final post of this series. Today, 50 years later, I am beyond thankful for the life we’ve had together. Again, not without the lows as well as the highs. That’s life. You make a commitment, and you honor it. You learn to live with each other. You love God, and you keep Him central.And you don’t let the love die. It changes, because life happens. Children, jobs, illness, unexpected ups and downs. You do it together because you promised you would, and you hold on to the love.

And you remember to be thankful.


Our Story: 50 Years, #7

With our engagement official, there were decisions to make. Foremost, I had to decided what to do about finishing college. One year to go. The problem for me was that I was still paying down my bill from the previous year. A good summer job had helped, but I really didn’t want to start my senior year still paying on my junior year.

You have to remember, this was over 50 years ago. A semester for me, at the private Christian college I attended, ran to maybe $600. Seems like a pittance compared to what young people pay these days. I worked my way through, as many others did, and lived on a shoestring. There was no undesignated money. Every penny was spent before I even put my check in the bank.

I had 27 class hours to graduate, and I wondered if I could do it all in the second semester. I would continue working during the fall semester, finish paying off the previous year, and start my last semester free and clear.

We talked about it together; consulted my mom and dad, and prayed for wisdom. Terry was concerned that my load would be too heavy, but I had already consulted with the school, explaining my situation, and they agreed to work with me to make it doable.

So I stayed home. Terry and I both worked in downtown St. Paul, so he was able to take me to work and pick me up. I took a couple of correspondence courses at home, to help decrease the class load when I went back in January. Those courses cut the hours from 27 to 21, and one class would be a once-a-week seminar in British Literature. I thought I would be able to handle it.

We drove to Terry’s childhood home in Iron River, Michigan. He still thinks it’s the best place in the world. Maybe not the town, after all this time has passed, but he loved the woods and the freedom he had up there. He has always thought he had an ideal childhood. That was the first time I met his parents. They introduced me to his grandmother, as well. Nana was a wonderful lady with a joyful spirit. She had come over from Germany when she was only 16, to marry a man to whom she had been betrothed as an infant. He was at least 20 years older, if my memory is accurate. They settled in Chicago, where Terry’s mother grew up. His dad was born and had lived all his life in Iron River.

We promised to come back over the Christmas break, and what a delight that was! Terry’s dad was a well-known graphic artist in the area, and he loved doing Christmas scenes. I wish I had photos of those that he did outdoors, but I don’t. The inside, though, was also a treat. These old photos don’t really do it justice:

That Christmas trip was also my first time ever riding a snowmobile. Great fun!

That’s me in the yellow snowsuit. Looks kind of like a banana with a belt 🙂

The building in the background was Terry’s dad’s hunting camp. It was rustic but homey and very comfortable, out in the middle of the woods exactly where Terry thought it should be 🙂

We also got a start on wedding plans. I wanted to get as much settled as possible before I went back to school, where free time would be scarce. So it was a busy fall, and the time went very fast. I was headed back to school in January almost before I knew it.

Our Story: 50 Years, # 6

It’s been so long since I posted. If you haven’t read the first five, you can find them in “Categories” on the right side of the page. You need to read from the bottom up.

We dated regularly for the rest of the summer of 1968. We did all sorts of things, sometimes nothing more than spreading a blanket on the grass somewhere for a picnic and hours of talking. He told me about his childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the summers he spent with his maternal grandmother in Eagle River, Wisconsin. He talked about the hunting he did with his dad and their friends. He loved the outdoors, and would still rathe be outside than inside. He absolutely doesn’t love the city. He would have moved me to Nowhere, Alaska if I’d been even slightly interested. I pictured gutting fish and moose; hanging sheets outdoors and having to bring them in frozen; and of course, using the outhouse in sub-zero weather. No. I don’t mind living in the country, but there are limits.

We both knew we were becoming very serious. We talked a lot about spiritual things, and Terry shared his sense of needing to study more, know more. He never liked to read before, but he loved reading his Bible.

Finally, in mid-August, he popped the question. I’ve written the story of his first attempt here, and I hope you’ll take a minute to go read it. It’s funny 🙂

The second attempt was after a long drive to a lovely park in Wisconsin. Beautiful setting, nice and breezy and cool because the sun was just about ready to fall into bed. He didn’t do the down-on-one-knee thing–I’m not sure he even knew that was customary. But he’d clearly thought it through, and was quite eloquent. And of course I said “YES!”

This photo was taken shortly after we were engaged:

Our Story: 50 Years #5

Once we had spent time together riding Terry’s motorcycle, we had our first official date. He asked me out for dinner, and I remember a few things about that evening.

He bought a suit just for that date. Of course, I didn’t know that right away, but I knew it before too much time had gone by. Terry didn’t do suits if he could avoid it, but he felt he should dress up for our first formal date. It was a light olive green suit, perfect for his coloring.

Second, it was the first time I had eaten beef stroganoff, and it’s been a favorite dish of mine ever since.

Third, without the noise of the bike, we actually had to carry on a conversation. I realized quickly that this was a bit of a strain for him. I was less shy than he, but for some reason I had trouble with the conversation that night, too. It got better, and we were much more comfortable by the time dessert came around.

After that, we did several different dates. One that I loved was going to Como Park in Minneapolis. There was a zoo, and they had lions. I don’t remember ever seeing lions up that close before, and I loved them. Huge, beautiful golden animals, they were graceful and watchful. We went several times, and that’s where I stayed the longest.

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I don’t know if this particular lion is still there. I couldn’t get enough of them!

The park also had a lake. They rented canoes, and we enjoyed that several times. Once , I remember, Terry decided he wanted to follow a byway on the lake just to see where it would take us. It was quiet, peaceful, and warm but not hot. Very relaxing. As the sun began to drop lower, I suggested we might need to get back to the landing. The park closed at sundown. But my Terry has never paid much attention to rules like that. He grew up in the wilds of northern Michigan, where there weren’t any rules about how long you could stay on the water.

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I’m sure the bullhorn was amped up so that the whole state of Minnesota could hear. Terry knew where we were, thank goodness. He has an excellent sense of direction. But we had paddled a significant distance from the landing, and it took us at least 15 minutes to get back.

The bullhorn yelled at us a couple more times. When we finally made it to the landing, it was clear the workers were not our best friends. Very little was said. Terry did apologize, but the guy who pulled our canoe to the landing just grunted in return.

I did have a job that summer as a cashier in a grocery store, but most of the rest of my time was spent with Terry. It was a wonderful summer, and holds some of my favorite memories.

Our Story: 50 Years, #4

Terry had a Norton 750 motorcycle. He thinks it was a 1967 model. Hard to remember back that far. I’d never been on a motorcycle before, but I certainly wasn’t averse to giving it a try.

That summer, for the first time in two full years, I didn’t have a job in Owatonna, where I went to Bible college. My mom had a friend who could get me a job at the grocery store where she worked, so I came home.

The first thing I needed to do was laundry. Mom and dad were gone somewhere with my little brother, so I had the house to myself and was busy hanging my sheets on the clothesline outdoors when I heard the rumble of that motorcycle. I watched it turn into our driveway, and recognized that it was Terry even before he took off his helmet.

Don’t forget, we weren’t dating yet. We were both quite shy, and I was glad his bike gave us something to talk about. And then he asked if I’d like to take a ride.

Oh, you betcha! It was a beautiful spring day, and the laundry could wait. I locked up the house and took the helmet he handed me. He SAID he always had an extra when he rode 🙂

Image result for Norton Motorcycle, 1969's, red (Snortin' Norton) 750 PT SCRAMBLER

“What do I hold onto?” I asked.

He turned a little away from me, fiddling with something or other on the engine–which I came to learn was always part of riding his bike. He was always fiddling with it.

“Me,” he said.

Oh, Well, okay. So he climbed on, and I got on behind him, my hands on his waist.

“No, you have to hold on,” he said, and I could see the blush creeping up his neck.

So I wrapped my arms around him and held on. It was a good thing I did. The driveway was uphill. I’d have been dumped off in a hurry if I hadn’t been holding on.

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Not us, but it could have been 🙂

And then we were off, and I loved every minute of it. He headed for the countryside, not far away, and I could tell by the comfortable way he handled his bike that he loved it, too. We couldn’t talk–too much noise. He pulled into a scenic overlook after a while, and we finally could chat. He wanted to know if riding made me nervous.

“No, not once we were on the road. I loved it! “

“Would you want to go again sometime, maybe a longer ride?”

“Sure!” And we did, many times.

The second time we went, I was wearing cut-off jeans. Learned not to do that. Remember, I’m short. I didn’t have any trouble climbing on, but when we stopped to rest I bumped my bare leg on the exhaust pipe as I dismounted.

“Ouch! That’s really hot!” I said.

“No, those pipes aren’t hot.”

“Really? Then how did I get this burn on my leg?”

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Not my leg 🙂 This is what the burn looked like a couple of weeks later.

“Oh, no! I didn’t know those pipes were hot! We’d better get you home so we can take care of it!” He couldn’t apologize enough, felt truly awful. I promised I’d always wear long pants any time we took another ride.

When we got back, no one was home. Poor Terry was so distressed, he wanted to carry me inside. Absolutely not–I can walk! And he’s the one who fixed me up, first with very cold water to slow down the spread of the burn, then a gentle wash with soap that hurt like the dickens, and I don’t remember if he put anything on it. Maybe just the gauze bandage I wore for a few days until it started to slough off the dead skin and he felt it was safe to go without the bandage. Better to expose it to the air, he said.

How did he know what to do? He was an Army Reservist, and had training in becoming a medic. Once again, my hero—except for the time it took me to convince him that yes, the pipe was HOT!

Anyway, it gave him an excuse to check in on me every day for a while, and he seemed to manage to do that just around supper time. My mom loved it. She enjoyed feeding him, because he could stow the food away as if he’d been starving to death.

My dad just quietly observed, and said very little. But I knew his face and his eyes, and I knew he was enjoying what he had started in the first place.

Our Story–50 years #3

We didn’t really date, officially, until I came home from college for the summer. But we were certainly aware of each other, and when I was home on a weekend, there was often an activity of some sort for the youth group that Terry had been recruited to help with as a driver. And I was clearly expected by the kids to ride shotgun. Fine with me!

I remember one Sunday morning in particular. Home for the weekend, I’d been downstairs teaching a class of little ones. By the time I gathered up my stuff, the service was under way. The auditorium was full. Well, except for one chair, which just happened to be next to Terry. There was absolutely nowhere else for me to go, so I gathered up my courage and went down the center aisle to the empty chair. He glanced at me and went deep, dark red when he realized I was going to sit there. I was probably blushing, too, but his blush was spectacular.

After the service, he didn’t have a lot to say, but he managed, “You have a really good voice.” We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Several of the women, young and old, gathered around me and were making all sorts of comments and assumptions, and it embarrassed me to death. At that point, I wasn’t ready for such talk and I got out of there as quickly as I could.

I will admit, though, that I was just a bit pleased that people thought what they did. Maybe, if others were noticing, perhaps Terry was noticing, as well.

One of my favorite stories centers on the weekend my dad baptized Terry. We believe in full immersion, and he was ready and willing. I was home, but for some reason I didn’t attend his baptismal service. Maybe I wasn’t feeling good. I just don’t remember. We didn’t have a baptismal tank in our small church, so we made arrangements with another church nearby to use their baptistry in the afternoon. Terry had dinner with us, and then they left for the service,

While they were gone, I decided to make some doughnuts. I enjoyed the process, and had done it many times before. I thought it would be nice to have fresh, warm doughnuts when they all came back.

I was in the process of frying the doughnuts when they returned. I’d already done over a dozen, and they were beautiful little golden brown treats.

Then, the door burst open and let in a gust of cold winter wind, and it was perfectly timed for my hot oil to be set aflame by that wind. “Fire! Close the door! Fire in the kitchen!”

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Terry came running, took in the situation at a glance, grabbed a metal lid from another pan and slammed it over my skillet, turning off the heat under the burner as he did so.

My hero!

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It didn’t burn long enough to do any damage. I asked him if I should throw out the oil and start fresh, but he though it would be fine to use it. While everyone enjoyed the pre-fire doughnuts, I finished up the rest. When they cooled, I put some in a bag for Terry, another bag for my roommates and me, and left a plateful for my family.

Those post-fire doughnuts were the absolute nastiest, worst-tasting things I’d ever had. It was embarrassing. The next weekend, I asked him if he’d eaten them, and he had. Every single one. I apologized all over the place and promised him a do-over, which he enjoyed more than once down through the years.

My roommates, by the way, tried to be kind. After I offered them a doughnut, I left to go get a shower. When I came back, they were both gone. I glanced into the waste basket and noticed a tissue, looking like something was under it. And there was a doughnut with one bite take out of it. I tried one for myself, and it joined the one that was already in the basket. They were kind, but we all had a good laugh over the saga of the burnt-by-fire doughnuts.

Image result for Norton Motorcycle, 1969's, red (Snortin' Norton) 750 PT SCRAMBLER
Next time, I’ll tell you about this beautiful bike and how it helped bring us together.

Our Story, #2

If you want to see the first piece, you can find it under Categories on the right side of the page. Look for “Our Story-50 Years.” As I continue, you’ll need to read from the bottom up.

I spent some time in my oldest photo album this morning. Remember those? Paper photos taken with old-fashioned cameras, placed in a big album and held in place by a saran-wrap-type of overlay. Boy, are they OLD! There are a few college pics in there, but that’s not really where the story starts, so I didn’t use those. Thanks to today’s technology, I took pictures of my pictures with my phone, dowloaded them to my Facebook (only I can see them there) and will post them here as I continue the story. Amazing, right?

The first thing I need to do today is back up a little bit. I actually met Terry early in my junior year, but there wasn’t a lot of contact until later. Time has a way of playing tricks with our memories, and mine is getting a little wobbly anyway!

It was during Christmas break in late 1967 that things began to become more interesting. Terry had become a Christian by then, and was attending church regularly. Oddly, I seemed to be finding reasons to make the trek from Owatonna, MN to White Beat Lake a little more frequently. My dad pastored there, and he’d asked me to be available whenever possible to fill in as a Sunday school teacher, play piano, or whatever else needed doing. I was glad to oblige. It wasn’t until well into January of 1968 that I began to realize he had an ulterior motive.

Dad had suggested I go to the youth group Christmas party. Uhhhhhh, well, I guess. . . . .didn’t really want to, but he was a hard guy to argue with. So I went.

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That’s me at the bottom of the stairs. I don’t look too thrilled to be there, do I? But then Terry showed up, delivering more kids, and that’s when the light began to dawn that my dad had a plan. Terry offered to take me home, and the kids he had brought all piled into the back seat. The first real conversation we had was that night, accompanied by the noise of a lot of kids high on sugar.

During that same vacation, I was comfy at home in my ugly plaid pants and a sweatshirt. My hair was in big fat curlers, my head encased in the plastic hood of my portable hair dryer. You girls today have no clue how hard we worked for decent-looking hair 50+ years ago!

The doorbell rang. I didn’t hear it. My dad waved his hand at me. He was in his easy chair, reading the newspaper. I turned off my dryer, and he asked me to get the door. Okay.

I opened the door, in my plastichoodshabbypantscurlers, and there stood Terry. Yikes. “Linda, is that Terry? I told him to stop by in case there were any stragglers who needed a ride to the youth activity at the gym. Looks like you’e the only one.”

WHAT? I’d had no intention of going! I’m not a youthgrouper any more!

“Come on in, Terry. Linda will be just a couple minutes getting ready.”

I was so astonished I could hardly think what to do. My dad had NEVER, EVER set me up with any guy. And I realized that this was exactly what was happening. Unbelievable. I was mad, embarrassed, shocked—and he just sat there reading his paper without giving me a second glance.

I had no choice, without making Terry extremely uncomfortable, so I yanked the curlers out, brushed out my hair, changed into a nicer pair of pants, and threw on a jacket.

“Okay, I’m ready.” Terry’s car was warm, a beautiful 1964 GTO. Nicest car I’d ever ridden in. He seemed to know where to go, and we had a pleasant–if a little stiff–conversation. He pulled into the parking lot at the local high school, which was built in big circular sections around a central core. The first door we tried was locked. We jogged around that circle to the next door. Locked. And again, locked. Once more, and we finally found the door where the party was. In the process, we got the giggles and were laughing like loons.

Once we got inside, it seemed as if every single person in the gym stopped what they were doing and stared at us. I wanted to disappear. But the moment passed, and before long we were playing volleyball with the kids.

I was pretty good at volleyball, and Terry made his first joke about my lack of height. Something about walking under the net instead of hitting the ball over the net. He’s never stopped.

We had a good time. Lots of fun, and I was sorry to see the evening come to an end. My dad, still involved in his newspaper when we got home, lowered it long enough to thank Terry for picking me up and bringing me home.

After Terry left, I said, “You did that on purpose!” The paper shook just for a second, and he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Right. Actually, I think Terry was the only guy I ever dated who had my dad’s 100% approval 🙂

This is what Terry looked like the next morning in church. His dad took this photo sometime during that year. Terry wore contacts then, and he had very intense blue/grey eyes, sometimes green, depending on what he was wearing. My handsome guy.

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Stay tuned. Lots more coming.

Our Story: 50years, #1

Terry and I are coming up on our 50th anniversary in June.

Here we are about four years ago, Christmas, with all nine of our grands:

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Anyway, I find that I’m spending a surprising amount of time remembering our lives together. We have been so blessed, including the hard times as well as the wonderful.

We met when I was winding up my junior year in college. He was working as a project engineer at 3M, and had a coworker who invited him to visit the small church my dad pastored. Curious because of his coworker’s complete trust in God, he visited for the first time during that same semester of my college year. He was nearly 24,

At some point soon after his first visit, I came home for a weekend. I don’t remember if there was a particular reason, but it doesn’t matter. I believe that God’s hand was guiding the entire process 🙂

What I remember first is that this guy had excellent posture and a steady, serious demeanor. I watched him covertly ( yeah, right–every woman in the small church was watching us watch each other) and wondered what his story was. I realized early on that he was almost painfully shy, especially with the female gender, and that tickled my funny bone. I loved making him blush. He was a redhead, with the give-away complexion that goes with it.

I had come off a very disappointing relationship with a college boy, and hadn’t dated for some time. Wasn’t interested in college boys—I wanted a man who had his life in order and was past his teen angst. I don’t know if Terry ever bothered with teen angst 🙂

I remember going back to school and telling my roommates about Terry. I think I said something like, “This guy is a keeper!” Somewhere deep inside, I knew. Really. I did.

I think I’m going to serialize this. Never thought about writing our story before, but I think 50 years deserves that kind of recognition.

To be continued. . . .