Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart

Qualified Entry: Non-Fiction Category

By: Lowell Thomas

Jane was a gorgeous bride. Whenever I look at our wedding pictures even today I think Little wonder I fell in love with this delightful lady.

The wedding was held at the local Methodist Church. More than once people who attended told us that there was something “special” about our wedding. Whatever it was, it has lasted for over five decades. If anything made it special it was beautiful Jane, with whom I have been madly in love with ever since. OK, maybe not madly . . . passionately would be more appropriate.

The wedding reception was held at the church for close friends and relatives and later at Jane’s parent’s home for out-of-town guests.

My old ’53 Chevrolet was parked in Jane’s neighbor’s garage to avoid anyone decorating it and adding the traditional (at the time) tin cans tied to the rear bumper to draw attention to the newly-weds as they drove through town.

Just prior to the wedding, I let out the information to a relative whom I knew would tell all, if he knew all, the location of our car. And right on schedule, the car was decorated with the tin cans and the “Just Married” signs painted on the windows with a harmless, washable paint.

At the given time, younger brother, Doug, drove up to Jane’s front door with Dad’s brand new 1958 Chevrolet. Doug jumped out, Jane and I got in and drove off for our honeymoon. Dad had offered us his new car for the trip, unknown to anyone but my parents and brother.

My parents had the “pleasure” of driving our decorated car down our small town Main Street to their home. They were kind enough to clean it up but didn’t give a thought to taking a picture of it. Jane and I never did know what we could have driven off in.

Earlier, Jane and I had decided where we would spend our first night together. It was in a motel only twenty miles from home. I was the first to awaken the next morning. When I saw the sun coming in the window, I nudged Jane, saying it was time to head up the road.

It wasn’t until we had both showered and dressed that we realized it was 3:00 a.m. The “sun” I had seen coming in the window was a yellowish insect repellent light outside our door.

We undressed and went back to bed.

As a surprise, I had ordered a dozen red roses delivered to our room for my new bride. Carrying the roses everywhere we went during our honeymoon, no one would have guessed we were newlyweds.

When we returned home Jane told her mother about the roses. Her response was, “Isn’t that nice? Now on your anniversaries he can give you an additional rose to represent each year of your marriage.”

That’s what I had had in mind, but because my mother-in-law had suggested it, the idea suffered a rapid death. In retrospect, it was good it happened that way for more than one reason. What would we do today with over fifty roses in the house each year?

Economically, in 1958 the cost of a dozen roses was $3. Today each rose can cost that much. That’s $150 for something that would be thrown out in just a few days. Thank you, Mother.

Jane’s mother was good at suffocating ideas. During rehearsal the night before the wedding her ideas became overwhelming for this twenty-two year old. I felt my life was out of control. When I dropped Jane off at her house following rehearsal, I suggested we call the whole thing off and elope. Her father had already offered us $500 to do so, and even in 1958 that would have saved him a bundle. Her mother had vetoed that idea also. Jane assured me that since her mother was picking up the tab, she had the privilege of being in control. Somehow that vaguely made sense to me but I assured her that her mother would not run the rest of our lives. As it turned out, my mother-in-law was one of the best parts of our marriage.

Thanks to the encouragement of Jane over the past fifty years, I have been successful in teaching and in administration in public schools, in college administration, plus a sideline of other achievements. One of which was radio broadcasting.

In the early 1990s I had my own daily radio program on a local radio station. It was called, “Thomas Tidbits for Today.” It was only two to three minutes each day, but the owner pretty much gave me free reign over its contents.

On August 16, 1993, I broadcast the following:

They had known each other since fourth grade, although they had never been sweethearts until many years later, following their graduation from high school, his military stint, and she, a senior in college.

At 22 he realized she was the most beautiful, wonderful person he had ever known. They were married, and within the next five years produced two of the most delightful children the world would ever know.

This wonderful, witty woman saw him through his college years by bringing home the pay check, thus meeting the bills.

Whenever he disagreed with her she found a diplomatic way to work things out – and eventually it always worked out to the advantage of both.

He placed her on a pedestal as she continued working hard to support their ideas, their dreams and their ambitions, and she enhanced his love for her through so many unselfish and often unsaid ways.

She laughed with him and laughed at him, and she would even laugh when she heard his corny jokes for the 20th time.

When times were tough, she was there to see him through them. When times were on a high, she was there to ride the wave with him.

This lady could read him like a book, and more often than not, she served his every need before he knew he needed anything.

When he was discouraged she saw to it that he could begin that word with an ‘en.’ When he was down, she let him know in her own inimitable, loving way, that he was, certainly, not out.

When he hurt, she hurt. And sometimes, when her own aches and pains became nearly unbearable, she still put him first.

I know that beautiful, wonderful and witty woman well. You see, she became by bride . . . 35 years ago . . . today.

Happy anniversary, sweetheart.

That’s Thomas Tidbits for today. I’m Lowell Thomas, saying . . . so long until tomorrow. (I stole that last line from my namesake who used it to end his news broadcasts for fifty years in the 20th century).

Today, more than fifteen years after that broadcast and fifty years after that “special” wedding, that true love still exists.

And fifty times I have had the privilege of saying, “Happy anniversary, sweetheart.” Sometimes I even buy her a rose.