One really beautiful and one just for fun and very glamorous for the holidays!
One of the advantages of working for a company as large as Standard Oil of New Jersey was that every year they hired smart, young engineers. 1963 was no different. An exceptional crop!
Al Weinberg and George Smith and I shared an office. A new guy named Cecil Gibson had an office was across the hall. Al was from North Carolina and he married Ellen, George was from Salt Lake City and he married Fibbie, Cecil was from Tennessee and he’s the one I married!
I have to admit being under some pressure from my mother about being 24 years old and still unmarried — but she did try to reassure me by saying that more women were happy with careers nowadays. Plus, my own reasoning was that no one else was ever going to ask me, so I had better grab at the golden ring.
The wedding was most definitely my mother’s moment in the spotlight. She had written to a good friend of hers whose daughter had recently been married and asked if I could wear her daughter’s dress — which was VERY expensive. The friend did send the dress with a note saying “Please make sure Susie wears dress shields when she wears the dress.” Well, I never have been very good at being told what to do so I definitely did not want to wear that precious dress. Cecil and I went to Alexander’s one night and I found a really pretty wedding dress for $25 and mother sent back the perfect dress.
There’s one part of the wedding that I will always be so terribly sad about and that was that my mother did not let my father escort me down the aisle and instead substituted my uncle Gene (who may well have been my brother). My father had been struggling with Multiple Sclerosis for almost twenty years and was confined to a wheelchair. I didn’t have enough nerve or courage or whatever to demand that my father escort me, no matter that he was in a wheelchair. As I look back, I realize how awful this must have been for my father. And I didn’t do a thing. I always did what my mother told me to do.
My mother’s close connection with my uncle (or probably brother) explains a lot of what was going on over all those years. From what I can glean, my father was the one who wanted a baby. And I can understand if Uncle Gene was really her son, why I wasn’t particularly wanted or loved. Looking back, I can understand why my mother was the way she was, but I can’t forget it.
Cecil had gone to Vanderbilt and had been in ROTC so he had committed to two years of service. Usually, this happens immediately after graduations, but with the Viet Nam War going on, Cecil managed to postpone it for two years. All the other engineers (except for those who had been in ROTC, had automatic deferments because of working for a critical industry. The delay also worked to Cecil’s advantage since, after two years on the job, Exxon made up the difference between Exxon’s regular pay and what the Army paid.
When Cecil reported for duty in 1965, I took a leave of absence from Exxon. His first assignment was the Proving Grounds at Aberdeen, Maryland. This was a fun assignment for a young couple — a tiny, railroad flat apartment and lots of good seafood. The entry door to the apartment was in the middle of the living room so there was always a rush to get completely dressed before company arrived. I did a lot of sewing and listened to the Baltimore Orioles baseball games over the radio. I was so disappointed when we went to one of the games and I didn’t have the radio announcer telling me what was going on.
More Continuing Saga to come . . .
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