Thursday, May 05, 2011


Recently in a post entitled Fairy Tale, I referred to the fact that a series of posts with the topic of my marriage, was missing a final Part so today, I am going to try to retrieve some of the facts from my 42 years of marriage.

 This blog primarily concerns the trip to my husband's (H) home in Scranton SC, and meet some friends and members of his family, I had not previously met. Let me re-phrase that last part......a lot of friends and members. I'll explain in a bit.

Here are the previous post links:
When Type A Meet Type Z: Part 1 Get Me to the Church on Time
The Path to the Alter Is Not Straight: Part 2 Get Me to the Church on TimeOne Fiancé MIA! Part 3: Get Me to the Church on Time
From MIA TO AWOL! ONE FIANCÉ! Part 4: Get Me to the Church on Time
Dueling Chairs - Part V: Get Me to the Church on Time
Despite the tribulations discussed in the links above, in retrospect, a great number of the seemingly unbelievable events were products involved both our very different  cultures mixed with the military culture. Some of which still arise today, except the military element is gone.

He was from a deep south family, who grew up with limited income; I was from a lower middle class religious family with one breadwinner who wisely and frugally managed to provide his three children and wife with a comfortable lifestyle.

He escaped via a military career, even though monetary income was not what it is today, benefits were certainly better than he ever had. I also participate in his benefits today via primarily the medical benefits, but also monetarily.

With my family's support, and I, with some part-time work, had a college degree in a profitable field and quite independent thereafter. H benefited from my additional income during my working career cut about 5 years short by a bout with cancers.

We both married at ages 34(H) and 33(me). The fact we both were accustomed to singularity may have been both a plus and sometimes a minus in our marriage. Pluses may have been maturity--we had sowed our oats a long time before, and minuses include some unwarranted independence and inconsiderate decisions.

SC Wedding Shower - Mt.Gilead Free Will
Baptist Church-Scranton, SC
L-R Husband, Myself, Unidentified Lady
 We often laugh when we encounter some of our differences, especially cultural and cuisines. We have great fun with a last name of Coward, and both have essentially female first names. Currently we literally are the only COWARDs in our county. There are Cowarts but no CowarDs.

After the wedding we spend several days in my hometown, packing my possessions in a U-Haul trailer. There was no furniture, but it was amazing how much filled that trailer, including wedding gifts.

We also had to wait for a repair shop to fix a small fender bender to my car, which happened near the end of one of the trips to Dallas hunting him down.

There was to be NO honeymoon. I often joke my privilege to accompany him and live in a foreign country, Morocco, was my 2.25 year honeymoon. It was a somewhat life-changing period of time for me. He, of course, literally cruised around the world.

Leaving all that was familiar was somewhat traumatic and our trip to South Carolina was tense at times. I had met his parents and one brother earlier, when I flew into Charleston. His mother had cancer, and was in a hospital, not expected to live. However, she rallied as she had many times over a 5-year period.

When we arrived from the long trek across the South from Texas, his mother had a hot meal prepared, of Shelly's favorite foods. I was quickly informed, and remember her words to this day: " Carol, this is Shelly's favorite foods, and you need to learn to cook them." I dutifully observed and politely ate them.

WHAT WERE THESE FOODS? Brown Speckled Butter Beans, a type of Lima bean, not to be confused with BROWN Butter beans, served with huge mounds of rice.

Both are available as dried beans in South Carolina and nearby states, but difficult to find elsewhere.  Both beans change color when cooked, The plain brown Lima turns very dark brown; the speckled bean changes to a grayish brown color and speckles basically disappear.

[I have posted about these beans previously and some of the cuisine listed in this post. Using search of my labels should find the posts.]

I was introduced to other interesting cuisine, chicken purleau , fish stew and mackerel or salmon scrambled with eggs and served over grits. I did not then realize the cuisine was closely related to the Gullah culture which resides along the coasts of  South Carolina, Georgia and upper Florida.

It took awhile, but I can minimally cook the beans, chicken purleau and salmon/grits, but not fish stew which is a specialty of one of  H's former brother-in-laws. In my later years my health problems caused me to reduce the unhealthy ingredients, primarily fat and salt; hence, the result is the food is not as tasty to H.

Not did I ever realize rice, which is a major staple in the cuisine, came in huge cloth sacks of 25 and 50 lbs. We ate rice and grits in Texas, but I never saw more than a 1-2 lb. box in our home or grocery stores.

H's brother worked at Winn Dixie and other area grocery chains. It was interesting to tour the stores and see items I had no idea existed. I had the same experience in Baltimore.

Gift Table, Mt. Gilead Free Will
Baptist Church, Scranton, SC
 Friends and family had a lovely wedding shower for us at Mt. Gilead Free Will Baptist Church with 21 guests and the newly-weds. Looking at photos in my wedding album, it was wonderful shower, but I appear in a state of shock--not sure if it started with the wedding, or meeting so many strangers at one time. [I had a shower before the wedding in my hometown, but I knew everyone.]

There were many and wonderful gifts, including some homemade quilts from H's mother. She proudly told me H had helped "quilt" one.

We kept the quilts, many years only using and wearing out one,  but in recent years we have returned items closely connected to our families, to the next generation. This quilt went to a nephew of Shelly's as a wedding gift, I think. A "haunted" kitchen mantel clock was given to a niece. The "haunting" is another post, unless I have already mentioned it.

H's father was a hoot and a great storyteller. He shared many tales with me...reminding me somewhat of my later found half-brother--not sure there was much truth in them, but then I am a Texan: exaggeration of fact is ingrained.

H's sister and brother, their spouses and children were about all I remembered in names. His mother had a birth and foster family, all of which were mixed among the people I met. I don't know who wrote her obituary, but it was a long one. 

This motel where we landed and stayed.
All these years I have not noticed
this photo and companion photo(below)
were printed backwards. Notice
license plate, U-Haul, motel signs. 
After a few days in and around Scranton, SC, H reported to duty in Norfolk, and we settled temporarily in a small motel with kitchenette. His ship was to become a naval reserve trainer in Baltimore. The drive from Scranton to Norfolk started in rain but quickly changed to snow in VA.

First temporaray "home" - glad I had a coat
handy as most clothes were in U-Haul!
[Also printed backwards]

During this transition period which lasted about a month, I spent time trekking to Baltimore, reciprocating my pharmacy license and hunting a place to live with appliances. We also purchased what was then called a newlywed household of furniture, which consisted of economical bedroom set, sofa, and small dinette set.

Obviously, entertainment was whatever existed on area military bases. I, a virtual non-drinker went with him to the Acey Duecy club for non-comissioned personnel. I understand the name is a variation of backgammon often played by military personnel. I never made that connection!
Entertainment was music, dancing and drinking. I wasn't much of a dancer, nor was he.

I made a bad decision to try to keep up with him drink for drink. Although I occasionally had a glass of wine or beer in my college days, I really craved neither; food has always been my adiction of choice.

Soon I had a row of untouched drinks before me, and I was drunk as a hoot owl. We finally left; I certainly don't remember how many drinks behind I was. Then we went to Giant Foods, an all night grocery store, and I tried to illegally buy some more beer. H laughs to this day about that as the store's night guard had to tell me I had to put it back. I guess he could have thrown in the slammer.

It was the worst night I ever spent. I slept on the floor to keep the room from spinning. But a good deal of the time I spent in the bathroom, sick. It virtually ended my drinking 'career' as H realized he needed to refrain from alcohol himself, he has been sober 40+ years! Living with me, that is remarkable.

One of the family friends had a floral shop in Lake City, SC. She regaled, to me one interesting tale of  H's many escapades in the surrounding countryside. As I remember, he was home on leave, drinking, had a wreck, knocking out all the lights in Lake City, and putting a huge hole in the mayor's hedge row. That gape in the hedgerow remained until the hedge row was completed removed.

I must interject that we both found that there is a bias, particularly in the military against non-drinkers because all celebratory functions, including promotions, drinking is almost mandatory.

Also, wives who work with salaries exceeding their husbands, as well as non-drinking, spiritual attitudes are considered detriments to their husband's career.

The drinking bias exists in some civilian work environments, such as upper echelons of management or a lot of male environments, including the local volunteer fire department in our earlier years living in the Ozarks.

I , nor H, are prohibitionists, and general non-judgemental of those who choose to drink socially and know their limits. I only wish the same social drinkers were less critical of our choice to refrain socially, or privately.

Finally, we moved to Baltimore where we lived for about three years before the transfer of duty station to Morocco.

We went to his home every weekend he, or I did not work. His mother's cancerous condition was worsening and she died almost two months to the day we were married.

My husband was her favorite child; even his brother and sister admitted it. The short time I knew her I know I would have had a wonderful mother-in-law. She had written me several letters before we were married, which I think I still have along with my husband's letters.

Again I met a multitude of family and friends, all at one time. It reminded me of going to a once in a life-time family reunion, most of whom you never knew before that event.

Unlike many couples, I looked forward to having a mother/father-in-law. At least, I had a father-in-law, but he died also, about 3 years later, when we were living in Morocco.

Although this is a somewhat sad ending to the epilogue. Meeting his family, I'm sure would parallel his meeting mine, in many respects.

However, I was not bitten by a Chihuahua, which was H's introduction to my parents. The little piece of nothing bit him on the shins as we enter the back porch of my home.
The back porch was the Chihuahua's domain as it was where she slept and ate.

41 yr. OLD Photos taken by family(3); myself (1) U-Haul & husband.


Arkansas Patti said...

I have followed your GMTCOT stories all along and this might be a favorite. Maybe I was just curious about the "after wards" part.
Very well written as usual Carol. Like you, I adored my in-laws.
I was once engaged to a Marine and remember that drinking thing. At that time, I was a willing participant.
Thanks for a really good read.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Jinksy said...

Truth is always stranger than fiction! LOL

CHERI said...

And they lived happily ever after:) What wonderful memories..and you tell your story so very well. Do you ever imagine how life would have been different if you didn't experience all the things you did? I sometimes very thankful though that God sent me just the RIGHT ONE!

rosaria said...

I enjoyed this immensely!

Dimple said...

Great story! I find I have an affinity for family stories, but I haven't written mine. Maybe sometime...
For now, I am transcribing the letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother in the year before they married. They are on my "Family Story: Sauls and Russell Together" blog. I am really enjoying it!

How funny that you hadn't noticed the backward printing on those pics before!

Lorna said...

You two have had a rich and seemingly rewarding life together. I always enjoy reading about your life as a young 34 year-old.

Liz said...

Wonderful stories as always.

Kat aka Beachkat said...

I sure enjoyed this post. So many memories. You are smart to record it. I know it took a lot of time and effort, but it was well written.


Sandi McBride said...

It was like reading my life. and I loved reading every word of it! There is nothing like the military life and while the pay was nothing to write home about, the travel was the bomb! Opps, maybe bomb is not quite what I should be saying lol! Loved this post...and that H is a South Carolina boy!

Pat - Arkansas said...

I've very much enjoyed this series of posts, Carol. Your rather convoluted courtship was worth it since you've been married for over 40 years.