I was thinking about my parents, who would have been married 64 years today. In their honor, here is a little post I wrote for their 40th anniversary.
February 23, 1952
- Major William T. Whisler shot down a North Korean MIG-15, his sixth, to earn himself the title of “Ace”.
- In the Sunday comics, Dagwood Bumsted asked his boss for a raise. He did not get one.
- Robert T. Harvey of Detroit asked for a divorce from his wife Ruth, because she “…didn’t talk enough and her weeks of silence became deafening.” He did get one.
- “GIRLS! GIRLS! Grab your guy and come a-running to the most brilliant musical of 1952” urged ads for With a Song in My Heart starring Susan Hayward and Rory Calhoun. (Neither could dance. Or sing.) Tickets were 40-cents until 6:00PM when they went to 60-cents.
- If your guy said “Neigh” to Hayward and Calhoun, you could always catch Rex, King of Horses, in Stormy.
In other Rex-related news, Aunt Melissa asked Rex Morgan MD when he was going to give an engagement ring to his nurse, June Gale. June did not get one.
The weather in Chicago was cloudy with light snow when my parents made his father one of the happiest men in Chicago. They got married. After serving in the Air Force during WWII and then finishing college, my father returned to Chicago to move back in with his parents and date my mother. He found this arrangement so satisfactory that my grandparents were quite concerned. My grandfather approached my mother for help, and they set a wedding date. Luckily, my father was free that afternoon.
- MY PARENTS: 3 children, another on the way.
- KIDS: 2 broken collarbones, 1 new Pontiac wrecked (handbrake release at the top of the hill), dozens of stitches, escape attempt #1 (slide down two-story laundry chute in hospital), escape #2 (my sister and I created a diversion on our first plane trip by being airsick all over First Class while my brother undid all the fasteners and was caught as he was about to push open the hatch door).
- DAGWOOD & JUNE GALE: scoreless
- PARENTS: 6 kids
- DAGWOOD: didn’t get a raise.
- JUNE GALE: Starting to get a decidedly pinched look about her mouth.
My father didn’t believe in wasting money on his clothes. He knew that with the blue suit he was married in, his old silk bathrobe from college, and his Air Force bomber jacket, he could go another couple of decades without further sartorial investment. Clothes reveal a lot about a person, but as time went on, these garments revealed so much of my father that my mother started to fear legal action. Instead, the movers ‘lost’ them on our next move.
Before they established a homeland in Silicon Valley, engineers like my father were a nomadic tribe. They roamed the Sun Belt, selling their slide-rules to government contractors and driving up housing prices everywhere they went. Somehow every time we moved, the movers lost stuff my mother didn’t like.
I couldn’t figure out how the movers could have forgotten to pack our good old scratchy green couch. But since the sibling count was up to six, I kept begging my mother to put the furniture in our car next time and let the movers have a go at shipping a few of my sisters.
1967: San Jose
- PARENTS: 9 kids.
- DAGWOOD: 2 kids
- JUNE GALE: didn’t even have a ring.
My parents exchanged their old car for a new station wagon which held seven adults. (Or one adult and 32 kids if my mother was driving.) So that none of us would escape while he negotiated the mountain curves of northern California–slowing down wears out the brakes you know– my cigar-smoking father kept all the windows closed, causing the wagon to be christened the Vomit Comet.
1972: Salt Lake City
- PARENTS: 10 kids
- DAGWOOD: no raise
- JUNE GALE: Thanks to the Womens Lib Movement, we learned that if anyone deserves a raise, it is June Gale who hasn’t had a promotion or raise in more than 30 years.
My father never met any strangers. Tollbooth, restaurants, hardware stores–he knew that everyone he met was interested in hearing about his ten kids in college, braces, and diapers. My mother, however, knew there were some things better left unsaid. “Don’t tell your father, girls, It`ll only worry him,” was her frequent admonition. So we didn’t tell him about a lot of things, from why the basketball hoop in the school parking lot now faced another direction, to the redwood tree which leaped into her path as she backed up the car, to the suitors we couldn’t let in the house to meet him because they had more hair than Lassie. A few years later, they finally told him everything. I’m not saying there’s a connection, but the hair he had left was gray after that.
- PARENTS: first grandchild is born.
- DAGWOOD: Dagwood and Blondie’s kids, both in their 40s, are still in high school.
- JUNE GALE: wonders if she would have been better off with Rex, King of Horses.
1992: San Francisco
- PARENTS: 10 children, 12 grandchildren
- DAGWOOD: at age 82, Dagwood still has not gotten a raise.
- JUNE GALE: Aunt Melissa (age 157) asks Rex Morgan, MD (age 76) when he is going to marry his nurse, June Gale (age 67)
All ten kids, spouses, and grandkids decided to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary with 40 presents and a conference call:
OPERATOR: “I have Mr. Segal on the line for your conference call.”
ME: “Who’s Mr. Segal?”
SIBLINGS: “She thinks we are. We didn’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her she had rounded us up on his nonexistent behalf.”
OPERATOR: [connects us to my sister’s house, where my parents were visiting.]
MY MOTHER: [desperate to ward off a musical offering by her ten genetically singing-impaired offspring] “Your father is in the shower. I’ll tell him you called.”
I’m sure he was asking himself if there was anything about this in his marriage vows as my borther-in-law, armed only with a portable phone, interrupted my father’s shower with orders to put a towel around it, sit on the porcelain throne, and accept congratulations. No flushing.
MY SIBLINGS singing: “HAP-PY AN-NI-VER…”
MR. SEGAL: “NO singing, please.”