1959 Cadillac Fleetwood – Rear View
A typical spring day
in western Pennsylvania might bring high wind gusts, pelting rain, or snow. However, days of low light are ordinary to people here.
This morning I watched the week-long weather report. A storm front is moving from the south towards the northern states.
In a flash, I remembered what it was like on Friday, April 14, 1961, when Bob and I got married.
Bob was twenty, and I was seventeen
when we eloped to Indiana.
Our best friends, Bill and Mildred, drove us in their flashy red 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty-Special. They had eloped to Indiana just two years before, and they knew exactly what we needed to do.
The weather that weekend was nothing like you might imagine for mid-April. We drove on icy roads through blizzards, white-outs, and snow-squalls most of the way from our home in western Pennsylvania, across Ohio, and into Indiana.
First, we drove to Angola, Indiana,
where we had to get a blood test.
After the blood test was completed, we jumped back into the car and flew down the highway. Our next destination was Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the courthouse is located. This is where we would get the marriage license.
We were required to appear before a judge.
At seventeen, I was not old enough to marry without parental consent. We realized we were running late as the four of us arrived at the courthouse shortly before closing time. I started to have a melt-down and was sobbing as Bob reached out, grabbed my wrist, and pulled me up those steps into the courthouse. I felt like we would not make it on time, and there would be no marriage after the long trip. I had done a lot of planning (lying) to be absent from my home for the 3-day adventure. Now, I felt like it was all falling apart. Besides, I was frightened about what would happen when I returned home and faced my parents.
I guess good fortune was with us, for we did make it in time to be brought into the courtroom and stand before a judge. He asked a few questions. By this time, I was not crying, but my face must have been swollen because the judge asked me if this was something I wanted to do or if this was something someone else was making me do. I assured him that getting married was my choice. He must have believed me, for he signed our paperwork and wished us good luck.
Now, we had one more place to go – Auburn, Indiana.
It was a good thing we were traveling in that hot Cadillac, for it zoomed over the snow-covered highways like an airplane. At one point, when Mildred was at the wheel, she gasped and wailed, ”
Oh, no! Bill, there’s a cop behind me!” She sounded hysterical at the sight of the police car that appeared in her rear-view mirror.
Bill said, “Take your foot off the gas, Mildred. Just tap it a couple of short little pumps.”
“That cop knows I am speeding, Bill. We are going to get a speeding ticket!”
Bill responded, “Mildred, just tap the brake very lightly, just a tap or two but, don’t hit the brakes. He won’t stop us.”
It felt like we were in a nightmare
spiraling down the treacherous highway with a cop in hot pursuit.
It worked! Mildred was a frazzle. We were all breathless, but we made it to Auburn without further incidents.
Because Mildred and Bill got married in the First Presbyterian Church in Auburn, that is where we would go. Bill and Mildred had the address and the contact information.
First, we got 2 motel rooms.
Next, we made a phone call to the church. Rev. Miles Freeman was away but would be back that evening. He would see us at 11 pm that night in the church chapel.
Before he married us, he asked some questions.
“Are you pregnant?” he asked.
“No,” I quickly responded
“Do you love him?” he asked.
“Yes.” I said.
I was married in a fashionable ivory tweed “walking suit,” which was the trend. My high heel shoes were ivory leather. In addition, I had a lavender feather hat that wrapped around my dark auburn hair.
After the wedding ceremony that night, Rev. Freeman asked us to send him a letter in one year to let him know how we were doing. We agreed. He told us he asks each couple that he marries to send him that letter at the end of the first year. He looked at me and said, “You are cute as a button!”
On our first anniversary,
I wrote Dr. Freeman the letter he asked for.
I can only remember the final line of my letter.
“We are as happy as two reasonable people can be.”
Well, I copied that from a book I was reading at the time. After all, I was only eighteen years old when I wrote that letter.
We will observe our sixty-first wedding anniversary on April 14.
I often think of marriage as something that requires motivation. However, after some rocky early years of marriage, I realized that one has to be motivated every day. Marriage is an intentional thing, like a job.
Zig Ziglar expressed it just right.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar.
Learn more about this Cadillac Sixty-Special luxury car that set a world standard in 1959 Here
Learn more about the Auburn First Presbyterian Church, Here
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