Random thoughts run through my mind as I write. Incidents that would affect later decisions and feelings hide in my head and to the fore. My father was always very open minded, having suffered himself from crippling polio, he perhaps was better able to see what people were truly like because he was forced to look below the surface. I don’t really know what caused his open minded world view, but that is the way he was. When I was older he explained to me that everyone in the world has a handicap, some handicaps are just more visible than others. That knowledge hidden in my thoughts helped me much as I faced my own future. I guess his unusual world view attracted my Mother, she admired it but did not feel comfortable claiming it as her own. They met in this way:
After mother’s two brothers, Donald and Harold had gone from home, my Grandparents decided to use some of the extra room in their large house to take in roomers. The boy’s rooms were empty now and could be converted into one large Bed/Sit that would accommodate two. There were always young men coming to town who needed a place to live while they were getting established.
My Father was one of those young men. He rented a room, shared with another, and as often happens fell in love with the landlord’s daughter. Mom liked him too, but Grandfather (called P.A.) was not enthralled with their budding relationship. Mother was destined for one of the young blades around town (lawyer, doctor, college graduate), they were always at the house to take out either Mom or her younger sister. grandpa agreed that my Dad was a very interesting young man to talk to , but after all he was only a bank clerk and Grandpa did not consider him a worthy suitor, his physical handicap didn’t help either.
Dad had grown up in Nebraska, in a small town near Sioux City, Iowa. While attending a two year Business School there, he frequently ate at a nearby diner in the city. The diner was frequented by a young, and yet unknown, local gangster named Al Capone. Sometimes he and Dad ended up at the counter over a few cups of coffee just talking like young men will. They became friends of a sort! Dad knew Al was into some shady dealings, but he did not know the details of the operations. When Dad finished his Business course, Al offered him a job keeping their books. Though it was his first firm job offer, Dad knew he needed to pull away from the association. Al would later move his center of operations to Chicago and become notorious. dad was always glad he had not pursued that offer.
To return to my parents romance: Dad started to court my Mom, not easy as a newcomer without a car. She was already squired around first class by others. Dad decided it might be a wise investment for him to buy a car, even though he could not drive it, he could teach Mom. He had grown up around farm tractors and machinery and knew the “how’s” of driving. It would give them freedom to date. Grandfather was not pleased with this decision and asked Dad to find another place to room.
Not too long after this , Mom and Dad, eloped. Dad had his best friend from High school and his girlfriend meet them in Yankton, South Dakota one afternoon. They were married by a Justice of the Peace. Then they had a celebratory meal at the Main Hotel there. When they returned to Winner to inform Grandfather, there was nothing he could do, they were both of age.
Mom always supported Dad and loved him wholeheartedly. When he later ran for Clerk of Courts in our county, she walked all over town delivering handbills. The incumbent Clerk tried to discredit him because he was crippled and could “never carry the heavy books”. But the town knew him and mom, he won the office with a generous margin. This is my “quilt” not that of my parents but this glimpse gives an idea of the kind of home I grew up in, loving, accepting; yet determined!