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I have always been told that our parents, Dorotha and Cloyd (preferring to be called "Sport") got engaged on Christmas Eve in 1938, and married the next night. When quizzed about the short engagement, Mom always responded that they couldn't afford a ring until then.
Because Grandma Hattie had heart trouble, Aunt Evie had gone in her place to help Mom to pick out her wedding dress in Lima. The royal blue velvet dress cost $11 and the coat $10. Though her father had died two months previously, the wedding was held in the family home outside of Arlington with 33 guests present. According to Mom they had to stuff them "in all the nooks and crannies."
The meal was made by Grandma and her two sisters. Dad had spent most of Christmas Eve cleaning celery to serve as part of the meal, but it had all turned brown and had to be thrown out. They forgot to get flowers, so Mom's cousins Reva and Stella went to the Arlington greenhouse at the last minute and came back with some just in time for the ceremony. Reva played wedding music on the Gulbransen, the piano that Mom's father had bought for her more than 10 years previously, in better times.
There wasn't any belling or wagon ride, as was the custom, because it was so cold. The wedding picture was taken in Findlay on the following Tuesday. Wedding gifts included: $100.00 from Grandma Hattie; a rooster and five hens from Dad's brother and sister-in law, Lawrence and Mildred; hand embroidered pillowcases from Mom's Uncle Roy and Aunt Mabel; a bedspread from Mom's cousin Stella; and a milk stool and milk bucket from another relative.
Dorotha and "Sport" began their life together in this modest fashion. They rented and farmed "on the halves," with Dad often working a factory job on the side, for nearly thirty years until they could afford to purchase a farm of their own.
Mom always said she wanted two boys and two girls. When it was suggested that perhaps they had more because she was hard of hearing, she'd get that Cheshire cat grin on her face. Apparently, the inside joke was that Dad would ask if she wanted to go to sleep or what, and Mom would say "what." When my sister commented in front of Mom that she'd never heard that before, Mom said she hadn't either, but that's not what her grin said.
In fact, together they raised nine children, who occasionally may have lacked material things, but there was always food on the table, plenty of playmates and a piece of pie for anyone who stopped by. Mom and Dad worked hard to make ends meet and strove to instill the values of hard work, honesty and morality into their brood. To this day, Mom stubbornly refuses still to pick a favorite child, saying instead, "I love them all." And when a son or daughter might try to point out an occasional character flaw in Dad, her instant defense, with a twinkle in her eye, would always be, "I coulda done worse!"
Though Dad died in 1991, Mom, who turned 94 this year, regularly gets that sad, distant look and comments to no one in particular (often out of context), "I still miss him."