March 20th will soon be here. This date has significance in my family because it was the day my parents got married. As you can see from the photo, their wedding was not a typical one of tuxedos, veils, and bridesmaids. This is because theirs was an impetuous affair, hurriedly arranged. It’s always been one of my favorite stories about my parents, so I’m going to share it here. I hope you enjoy it too.
My parents met when my father Armond was in the CCCs in 1938, and my mother Lois was in high school in a tiny mountain town north of Seattle. They were not romantically involved at the time. Armond was focused on getting into college, and had little time for girls. Lois was interested in Armond, but accepted that she had no chance with him. But she made sure she got accepted into the same college he did, in 1939.
But in 1940 Armond was drafted into the Army, and Lois quit college to get a job in Olympia, the state Capitol south of Seattle. They remained just friends. Although Armond and his army buddies would often come down from Fort Lewis and take Lois and her friends out dancing, this was the extent of their “dating.” Times were uncertain, and Armond felt it would be unfair to get serious with anyone until he got out of the army. Lois was disappointed because she still harbored a secret crush on Armond, but managed to get over her disappointment. It wasn’t like there weren’t plenty of other soldier boys to date. When Armond left for San Francisco and then overseas in late 1941, the extent of their intimacy was a kiss on the cheek.
While Armond was fighting, Lois did volunteer war work and then joined the Marines in 1942 (a story in itself). They kept up their friendship via letters. (We have many of these letters, because they saved them.) The letters do reveal a growing level of romantic interest on Armond’s part, although it was hinted at only, never overt. For her part, Lois kept her letters to him friendly, although in her letters to her mother she did reveal that she was conflicted over her feelings for Armond and her feelings for the other boys she dated, especially one named Bob, who like her was stationed in Philadelphia. Bob had asked her to marry him more than once, but she hesitated. She wasn’t sure if she was reading too much into Armond’s hints in his letters – was it possible that he felt the same way about her as she did about him? Maybe she should pass up Bob, although she was very fond of him. Or maybe she should accept Bob’s proposal and give up on a man who kept her guessing about his feelings. And of course there was the uncertainty of War. No one knew what would happen.
Then Armond was wounded in July of 1943. At first no one expected him to survive. When he did come back home in early 1944, she was stationed in Philadelphia, and could not visit him in the hospital in Spokane. She was still dating Bob, who was a persistent fellow and kept asking her to marry him. Lois did not know how badly Armond was wounded, and he was unsure if he would remain disabled and unfit for marriage. Their letters reflect their mutual confusion over the relationship and where it might go, or even if they would ever see each other again. After all they had not seen each other since 1941, and they had never been romantically involved anyway. How could they know if a romantic relationship would work?
In March 1944 Lois got leave to go home to visit her parents. Armond was still in the army hospital in Spokane. She wrote to him and told him the train stopped for two hours in Spokane; perhaps they could meet at the train station, just to say hello for old times’ sake. He applied for a half-day leave from the army, which was granted. But there was a mix-up on which platform her train arrived at, so he waited at the wrong platform, and although she went looking for him, she didn’t find him on time and had to rush back to catch her train. So they missed each other. Lois wondered if it was an omen.
Lois arrived in Seattle on Thursday March 16, 1944. Her parents met her and they drove home to the tiny town in the mountains, Darrington. On Friday, Armond went A.W.O.L. from the army, borrowed his sister’s car, and drove over the mountains, arriving in Darrington that afternoon. Lois was stunned to see him. They went for a walk by the Sauk River and he proposed marriage. She accepted. (Let’s hope they finally got to kiss.)
That same afternoon Armond and Lois borrowed her mother’s car and drove to Seattle to obtain the marriage license. Although long distance was expensive, there was no time to waste, so when they got back to Darrington Lois called her friend Lela in Olympia, and Lela got hold of the minister of the church she and Lois had attended there, who agreed to marry them on Monday. Armond called his 16 year old brother Gaylord in Spokane and told him he’d pay for his train ticket so one of his brothers could be his best man. Armond and his future father-in-law met Gaylord at the train station on Saturday and rushed to the store to buy Gaylord a suit. Everyone met in Olympia on Monday and Lois and Armond were married.
On Wednesday Lois took the train back to Philadelphia and Armond went back to the hospital in Spokane, where he was not punished for going AWOL. After not seeing each other for three years, and having never had a true romantic relationship, they started their married life by having less than a week together. It wasn’t until that summer that Armond was discharged from the army and joined Lois in Philadelphia.
I would call this impetuous. Yet they were married for 65 years.