Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category
Forty-one years ago, Dale and I were married at the Douglas County courthouse in Superior, Wisconsin. Interesting story, this. Neither one of us were from Wisconsin. We were both living in Akron, Ohio at the time, my hometown, and he was from Hibbing, Minnesota. How did we end up on the first day of summer in a Superior, Wisconsin courtroom, getting married in 1973?
We were of the “hippie generation,” rather anti-establishment and questioning the need for a lot of rules and regulations in our lives. We were living together without the benefit of the license, but had every intention of making it legal when the time was right. For me, the time was right when I could get married without parental consent. I was young — five years younger than my fiance. We got engaged two months before my 17th birthday. I was engaged my entire senior year of high school. The legal age to get married in Ohio without parental consent was 21. However, it was possible to cross state lines and get married in a neighboring state where the age to get married without consent was lower. Maryland was such a state, and our plan was to take a couple of close friends with us to act as our witnesses sometime after my 18th birthday, date to be determined. We both agreed that Mike Willett and Margaret Myers (now also married for 40 years!) filled that bill very well. Those were the plans, such as they were.
Dale’s mom heard of these plans in the spring before his college graduation and my high school graduation. She had a meltdown. They were planning to come to Akron, Ohio for their son’s college graduation from the University of Akron in June. Finances were tight. She felt that they couldn’t make a second trip anytime soon, and by golly, her son wasn’t getting married without her being there. Our plans began to change.
Dale and I were going to return to Minnesota after his college graduation so that he could spend a couple of weeks at home before he started his first post-college engineering job at General Tire & Rubber in Akron on July 1. Dale’s mom suggested that we get married in Hibbing during those weeks that we were there in June. Okay, fine. Only problem was that Dale’s mother discovered that Minnesota wouldn’t marry us because I was an out-of-state minor. Even with parental consent, Minnesota wouldn’t marry us. On to the next idea….
Wisconsin, however, has been known to do things that Minnesota won’t do. Wisconsin would marry us, and it’s only an hour’s drive to Wisconsin from Hibbing. All I needed was the parental consent. I didn’t want to get married with parental consent — it was a pride thing for me — but I agreed that we’d get married in Wisconsin in June. Dale’s parents picked up the consent form in Superior on their way to Ohio for Dale’s graduation, and then we spent a frantic evening trying to get the damn thing notarized. My dad had a very limited window of availability to sign this form in front of a notary. He was a long-distance trucker and had to get on the road. From the time that Dale’s parents arrived with the form from Wisconsin, we had a few hours to accomplish this, and it was already late into the afternoon “supper hour.” It was a hassle. I found myself wishing I had stuck to my guns and said “no parental consent, Maryland in the fall.” But we got ‘er done.
Once in Minnesota a couple of days after Dale’s graduation, we made the drive to Superior, Wisconsin and applied for our marriage license. When the white-haired lady at the application desk rolled the form into the typewriter and asked Dale was his occupation was, he replied, “Engineer.” She wanted to know what railroad he worked for! We still laugh at that. We got tested for syphilis and told to come back after the five-day waiting period. We made an appointment at the courthouse for a judge to do the deed on the afternoon of Thursday, June 21.
On that day, Dale’s parents, his sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Roy (our witnesses) and his younger sister, Joan, all took off for the Twin Ports. We had lunch at an interesting place called Somebody’s House, a restaurant in Duluth that served about 50 kinds of hamburgers. We then crossed the border over into Superior (the other half of the “Twin Ports”) and congregated at the courthouse. In ten minutes, it was done. Dale’s mother didn’t even have time to drag her tissues out of her purse and have a good cry. It was a cool rainy afternoon as we left the courthouse and climbed into our 1966 VW Beetle. We headed north towards Canada for a wedding night away from Hibbing, spending the night in Thunder Bay, Ontario at The Fort Motel, which we found was right on the railroad tracks. I was watching a train go by at 3:00 that morning. The VW Beetle broke down on the way back to Hibbing. Broken throttle cable which Dale “fixed” using wire from a hardware store.
Here we are, 41 years later, a happily married couple from some very humble beginnings.
A surprising thing happened on this date 40 years ago. Late in the afternoon of Saturday, February 6, 1971, I got a phone call from a young man. His name was Dale Scheisskopf, and I had met him in person for the first time several weeks earlier.
The circumstances of our first meeting involved the person in our lives that we had in common. I had been dating a college student who lived in a house rented to seven University of Akron male students. He and I had been dating openly for a couple of months, although there was a colorful history of us talking to and seeing each other clandestinely for several months prior to that. (I was 15 and he was 23. It’s no stretch of the imagination to figure out why my parents had gone ballistic and forbid the relationship, hence the sneaking around.)
My college friend lived in the student house with Dale and each had a bedroom on the second floor of the house. When Dale had moved in during the summer term of 1970 from his home in Hibbing, Minnesota, he quickly became frustrated with the arrangement of the house having only one telephone for seven residents. (This was before cell phones were invented!) Furthermore, the communal phone was on the first floor, which made it very inconvenient for conducting private conversations. Not only that, it was understandably in use a lot. Dale arranged to have a second phone line installed on the second floor that was in his name. He was generous enough to place the phone in the hallway where the other guys could use it, and they would reimburse him for any long-distance charges rung up. However, he also reserved the right to haul the phone into his room and use it for his own private conversatioins and calls back home to Minnesota. This phone becomes instrumental in the story.
A car plays an important role in this story as well. My friend didn’t have one. Dale did. My friend didn’t even like cars because of their negative impact on the environment. However, there is no denying the fact that a car comes in handy during cold, snowy winters in Ohio when you want to take your girlfriend to see a movie without having her mother drive you. Then there becomes an advantage to double-dating where you and your girlfriend and your friend and his girlfriend go on an outing together and take his car.
On Saturday afternoon, January 16, 1971, Dale and Stacie and my friend and I went to Chapel Hill Mall to see Love Story at the mall’s theater. That was my first in-person meeting with Dale, even though I knew he was the owner of the telephone and had spoken to him briefly when I had called for my friend.
A week after the Love Story double-date, my friend wanted to take a Saturday afternoon trip to an outlying town to see what was billed as a “wooden bicycle.” I think that there was also something involving a left-behind scarf or gloves that he was picking up at the same time. He enlisted Dale as the chauffeur, and the three of us set off for our adventures in Atwater. Stacie was on a skiing trip that weekend, leaving Dale to his own activities that Saturday. Dale was in good spirits that day and cracked jokes, made amusing comments, and generally kept me entertained on the excursion and the lunch that followed.
I have to relate this incident just for the record. Both my friend and Dale escorted me to my front door at the end of that time together. Andrew kissed me goodbye while Dale hovered at the edge of the front porch. Dale piped up, “Where’s my kiss goodbye? I did all the driving!” (He was just messing around, I knew, poking a little fun at his housemate.)
I played along with this and invited him to claim his goodbye kiss, expecting to give him a peck and send him on his way. He had other ideas! He laid a big one right on my lips and drew it out for a few seconds, and damn! That guy could kiss! Very sensuous mouth and I found myself, much to my surprise, enjoying those moments.
Andrew started to flap in the background. “Hey! Hey! HEY!! That’s MY girlfriend!”
Dale and I, chuckling a little, ended our goodbye.
January ended, my upper respiratory affliction of several weeks duration took a turn for the worse, and I was diagnosed with pneumonia. On Tuesday evening of that week, February 2, Dale’s steady girlfriend of more than two years made a date to meet with him at the University’s student union. (Stacie was Dale’s reason for being in Ohio from Minnesota. Her father had gotten a job promotion when they were less than a year into their relationship in Hibbing and moved his family to Ohio. They conducted their relationship long-distance for almost a year through snail-mail, phone calls, and several 800 mile trips during that year until Dale moved to Akron in June 1970 to continue his education at the University of Akron.) On that evening, she gave his class ring back and said that she wanted to be free to date other guys.
Dale was completely blindsided by this turn of events. He claims he never saw it coming. He was devastated. Andrew told me about this the day after it happened.
The weekend arrived after this devastating event. On Saturday morning and early afternoon, Andrew paid the sick girlfriend a visit before his shift as a busboy at an upscale restaurant on the edge of downtown Akron. He had left my phone number by the upstairs phone at Thee House, expecting that he might receive a call from work to change his schedule for the day. The restaurant didn’t call, and he left as planned to go home, change his clothes, and head off for work.
Dale said just this past week that there was no particular premeditation involved with his decision to call me. It was an impulsive thing. However, that slip of paper with my phone number on it found its way into his pocket. He was upset, depressed, and what friends he had acquired during his seven months in Ohio were mutual friends with his now-ex girlfriend. He called me and asked if he could come over for the evening. He knew that I was aware of what had happened that week. He was painfully honest and said that he just didn’t feel like being alone that evening. I said yes. We spent the evening together at my home, listening to music, talking, eating some popcorn, sipping soft drinks. It was not much of a “first date” with one of us recovering from pneumonia and the other one heart-broken. I don’t think that either one of us considered it a date at the time.
But it was our beginning as a couple 40 years ago today. The next date a week later was a “real date,” and they’ve just gotten better over the years!
Inspired by a friend asking the question yesterday, “How do you cope when Dale is gone on business?,” I wrote the following little essay. It really brings to light just how different my husband and I are — different but very complementary. When he’s gone, the differences really come out!
Over the years, Dale has has traveled extensively on business, from Toronto, Canada to the Dominican Republic, from Atlanta, Georgia to Tokyo, Japan. Sometimes these trips have gone on for several weeks at a stretch. He spent almost six weeks in Puerto Rico without a break to come home in 1986, the longest he’s ever been gone. He spent four weeks in Nirobi, Kenya and several weeks in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. (Or was it Thailand? Who can keep track?) For some time, his frequent trips to China over the last couple of years were running two weeks at a time every month.
Recently, his trips to China have only been one-weekers which is a piece of cake for me. A week goes by fast, especially the work days. I get up and feed the Bubba-cat his breakfast and pills. I have my coffee, read my email and check Facebook updates and go to work. I buy my lunch over at the Revenue Building across the street since there probably aren’t any leftovers to take. I work until 5:00 or later since I don’t have him waiting for me to carpool home. More often than not, supper is eaten out someplace, often at Key’s Cafe close to our house. I always have a book with me and read while I’m eating. (In my moments of temptation, I hit up Old Country Buffet for their fried chicken and soft-serve ice cream for dessert!)
I come home after supper out somewhere, apologize to the cats for their supper being late (again), flip through the mail, and once the cats are taken care of, I sit down with the computer to check for an email from my traveling spouse. I usually send off a reply and then play on Facebook ad nauseum. Occasionally, I indulge in a movie he wouldn’t care for — like something scary or suspenseful, which he typically avoids if there is violence in them. Then bedtime. I usually read in bed for awhile, something I don’t do when he’s home. Luckily, I’m a woman who doesn’t have any anxieties about being home alone at night. I sleep well, in fact probably better than when he’s home because the bedroom is much quieter.
The bad thing is that he’s been leaving early Saturday afternoons on these China junkets, leaving me with the rest of the weekend on my hands. I tend to rattle around on the weekends. Sometimes I spend too much time on the computer, just wasting time. Sometimes I sleep too much. I don’t have anyone to suggest that we go for a motorcycle ride or pop in at the art fair in Afton, no one to voice an interest in trying out a new restaurant or taking in an indie film at the Lagoon. I don’t do these things by myself, and I seldom ask anyone else to do them with me. I think that it’s my longstanding history of depression that makes initiating social contact, especially on the spur of the moment, difficult for me.
My mealtimes are off and my sleep schedule gets weird. I’m a night-owl by nature and can get my days and nights turned around very quickly when I don’t have someone else here to help me stick to a normal routine. In my younger days, I had been known to go to a 24/7 grocery store at midnight or go out and mail a letter at the post office at 2:00 in the morning. I don’t do that kind of thing anymore, but you get the idea of some of the things I do at odd hours when left to my own devices.
Since I eat most of my meals out when he’s away, I wash dishes once a week. I mean, what’s to wash? I use the same coffee cup everyday, rinsing it out between uses. I end up with a sink full of cereal bowls, cat dishes, and spoons, a glass or two. The night before he comes home, I eyeball my mess and clean it up so he doesn’t know I’m a slob. (Yeah, right, like he hasn’t figured that out after 38 years of living with me!)
I pray it doesn’t snow much when he’s gone because clearing our driveway is a tough job for me. I dread getting six or eight (or more) inches of snow when he’s gone. I do what I have to do, but it’s hard.
My coworkers have been instructed to never, ever blow it off if I don’t show up for work someday when Dale is gone on business. They are to call and check on me. If I don’t answer the phone, they are to find out why. I realize just how alone I am when Dale is gone. No other humans are in and out of this house on a predictable basis when he’s gone, and no one would know if I’m sick or injured. My coworkers are the only ones who know my patterns on a daily basis, and they would be the first to know if something is not right. I depend on them to keep half-an-eye on me when I’m home alone — just in case. My coworker who lives only a few miles away is always asking me if Dale is here or gone. Sometimes I think she’s nosy. Other times, I’m glad that someone asks and knows what my status is.
It took me a lot of years to appreciate this, but my husband has a very stabilizing influence on my life. When he’s home, I eat three square meals a day, usually fairly balanced, because he is an excellent cook and does all of the grocery shopping and meal preparation. My bedtime is fairly predictable because he is one of those “early to bed, early to rise” sorts of people and if I stick pretty close to his routine, it ensures that I don’t stay up half the night (or all of it) and then sleep most of the day. (This applies, of course, to weekends and holidays.) Things get done on schedule when he’s home, whether it be errands or snow shoveling or auto maintenance.
But what I miss most when he’s gone is someone to share some wine with, someone to talk to about the random things that pop into my head, someone to snuggle with on the couch. None of that happens when he’s gone. I don’t drink when he’s gone, I talk to the cats, and although Bubba is sometimes up for a snuggle on the couch, it just isn’t the same. Even though I enjoy a few days of my “alternate lifestyle,” I miss my soulmate when he’s gone, and all feels right with the world when he’s home again.
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Dale and I are celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary this Sunday. It corresponds with Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth this weekend so going anywhere within a 50 miles radius of there is out of the question. No lodging available unless we want to sleep in our shed in Two Harbors. That is fine on occasion but not on our wedding anniversary.
Instead of heading north as we customarily do, we are heading in a southwesterly direction. About two hours from the Twin Cities is New Ulm, a town founded on German culture and tradition. We’re staying at The Bohemian Bed & Breakfast Friday and Saturday nights. A tour of the Schell Brewery will problem be on tap (so to speak). I don’t kn ow what else we’re going to do, but we’ll find some entertaining things to do during our little get-away.
It’s nice to be happily married. I love sharing these little adventures with my “otter half.” 🙂
In 1968, Dale, a recent graduate from Hibbing High School in Hibbing, Minnesota, gave Stacie, his 16-year-old girlfriend, his class ring. They went steady through most of Dale’s freshman year at what was then Hibbing State Junior College and Stacie’s sophomore year at Hibbing High School. Towards the end of that school year, Stacie’s father received a job transfer/promotion to the company’s office in Cleveland, Ohio, and during the summer of 1969 moved his family to a suburban area situated between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. The young couple maintained a long-distance romance, writing handwritten and snail-mailed letters daily and talking on the phone. Dale made a couple of trips out to Ohio to see Stacie and decided by late winter to continue his college career at the University of Akron rather than moving down to the Twin Cities and taking up residence in his older sister’s basement as he commuted to the University of Minnesota, as was once anticipated. Dale carried through with these plans. In June 1970, with his Associates Degree from Hibbing State Junior College in hand, he loaded up his Corvair (I said Corvair, not Corvette!), hooked up the U-Haul trailer and took off for Akron, Ohio.
That very same month, I was making the acquaintance of a college student who was living in a student house just off-campus from the University of Akron. That student house routinely held seven University of Akron male students. Dale moved in there that month.
The guy I was dating in 1970 had a room across the hall from Dale. However, he didn’t have a car. That winter in Akron was cold and snowy. Dale had a car. Dale had a telephone in his room, which he was willing to share with the other guys. Dale had a girlfriend and went out on the weekends. Andrew asked Dale if he and Stacie would like to go to see a movie with him and Bonnie. Dale said sure, so Andrew called me up on Dale’s phone and asked if I wanted to see Love Story out at Chapel Hill Mall that weekend with Dale and Stacie. Dale could drive! Dale was called upon to play chauffeur another time or two after that since it had worked so well the first time.
It was in February 1971, 2-3 weeks after that double-date to see Love Story, that Stacie, then a high school senior, returned Dale’s class ring and said that she wanted to date other guys. Dale was crushed, completely blindsided by this announcement. He said he never saw it coming.
The Saturday after this, Andrew had been at my house in the early afternoon and had left my phone number by the communal phone in Dale’s room at “Thee House” since he was expecting a phone call. Later, Andrew returned to Thee House to get ready for work. After he left, Dale looked at that slip of paper with my number on it and called me. He said he knew Andrew had told me about what had happened earlier in the week. He explained that he was feeling really down and just didn’t want to be alone that evening. Unfortunately, he was in a position of having a lot of mutual friends with Stacie but none on his own apart from that relationship. He asked if he could come over, just spend an evening with me and the folks. (He knew I wasn’t up for much, having been diagnosed with pneumonia earlier in the week!) We could watch TV, make some popcorn, listen to some music. Whatever. I genuinely liked Dale and told him that would be fine. Come on over.
We made some popcorn, munched and talked. Dale had brought his guitar and played and sang some Bob Dylan tunes (poorly). We had some pop, watched a little TV. At the end of the evening, he thanked me for allowing him to come over and said that it really meant a lot not to be home alone that night.
That was the evening I considered to be our first “date,” such as it was. We saw each other regularly after that. We got engaged in June of 1972, married in June of 1973, and celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last June.
We are going to La Grolla in St. Paul this evening to celebrate the 38th anniversary of our first date.
This morning my husband emailed me from Atlanta. He said, “Read your blog just now. It looks like you’ve provided a bit of educational material for someone we all know and love. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. (Of course, it ain’t my blog that was studied.) I think that [namesless folks we know and love] are mature with very open minds. If anything, they will probably develop even deeper feelings for you after learning more about you as a person. Heck, you might even be setting a good example in that regard. I do believe that they now have the realization that our side of the family may not have been quite as boring as they had imagined it to be in the past…”
I’m glad he didn’t admonish me and say, “Well, what were you thinking by putting that stuff in your blog where anyone could read it! If you’re uncomfortable about it, it’s your own damn fault.”
Thank you, dear, for the support and encouragement. You’ve always been there for me, the kind of person I’ve always been able to depend upon, and that is priceless beyond all words.
And, no, we’re not at all boring. Anyone who is laboring under that misperception has a whole lot of learning to do about us! (As Bekki would say, “((grin))” ).
A tradition was introduced many centuries ago to allow women to propose to men during a leap year. This privilege of proposing was restricted to leap day in some areas. Leap day was sometimes known as “Bachelors’ Day”. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage offer from a woman. The tradition’s origin stemmed from an old Irish tale referring to St Bridget striking a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men every four years. This old custom was probably made to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how the leap day balances the calendar.
In 1972, a Leap Year, I was 16-years-old and had received my boyfriend’s high school class ring over Thanksgiving weekend 1971. That class ring was a long eight months in coming counting from that evening of the first mutual “I love you’s” in early March. However, the relationship moved at a rapid pace from that Thanksgiving weekend onward. It was around that time that he, a college student from the Iron Range of Minnesota attending school in my hometown of Akron, Ohio, wondered if I would be interested in going home to Hibbing, Minnesota with him over Christmas break and spending the holiday with his folks. I was interested, but of course, my parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea of me getting into a Volkswagen with a young man for a 1000-mile trip to Hibbing! Eventually, however, my parents gave their reluctant consent, probably because things were in such a turmoil at home and Christmas there was destined to be a tense one. (An aside: my father took that opportunity while I was out of the house for two weeks to move his stuff out and into a two-bedroom apartment. That was the news I came home to about as soon as I walked in the door on the evening of January 2, 1972.)
For some reason, I have a clear impression of when I first knew I was going to marry this man. It was during that trip from Akron, Ohio to our overnight stop along the way at his sister’s house in a northern suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We had just made the long, tiring trip across Wisconsin, a state that seems to go on and on forever when one is driving all the way across it. We had reached the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. The bridge across the St. Croix River greeted us. We passed the sign next to that bridge that proclaims, “Welcome to Minnesota!” He reached over, squeezed my hand, and gave me an emotional little smile that was probably part barely-contained homesickness. “Welcome home, babe!” he said.
I squeezed his hand in return and felt a bond there that went to the bottom of my heart. And I just knew I was going to marry this man and spend many, many years with him!
A couple of weeks later, just a day or two into the new year, I mentioned to him that I heard there was a tradition that women could ask men to marry them in Leap Year. Yes, he allowed that he had heard of such a tradition. “So, will you marry me?” I asked.
“I might consider it,” he replied, chuckling, “but I think it only counts if you propose on Leap Day! You’re going to have to ask again on February 29!”
February 29, 1972 came around. “Isn’t there something you wanted to ask me?” he wanted to know.
“Yes,” I admitted, “and you know what it is. I already asked you!”
“But now it’s the official day. Today’s the day you have to ask!”
I wasn’t embarrassed the first time I had asked him in January, but for some reason I was on February 29th. I managed to muster up my courage and get the words out (NOT on bended knee, though!) “Will you marry me?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said simply.
We didn’t officially announce our engagement until early June. At least, by that point I could say that I was going to be a senior in high school! I was engaged my entire senior year at St. Mary’s High School, and we got married on June 21, 1973, three weeks after my graduation.
And it was all my idea. I was the one who officially asked for his hand in marriage!