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.