One of the most popular TV sitcoms these days is “How I Met Your Mother” – told in flashbacks by a father to his two teenage children.
He chronicles his single life looking for his true love.
My dad never sat his three sons down and told us the story of how he met our mom, though, had we asked, I am sure he would have told us.
Since he is gone now, I have to go to Mom to for their story.
With Valentine’s Day (as well as their wedding anniversary) both occurring in the same week, I thought it was a timely topic.
It seems as if Mom and Dad had always known each other, since childhood, attending the same Catholic grade school and parish in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, called Holy Rosary.
Dad was two years older than Mom and would occasionally interact with her and her two siblings, my Aunt Alice and Uncle Don. Mom mentioned that she and a patrol boy, who walked her neighborhood’s students to school, would sometimes tease
each other. The patrol boy
Dad also had a buddy who lived on Mom’s street and would occasionally see her in his travels.
After grade school, Dad went to all-boys Central Catholic High School, and when he graduated in 1946 was drafted into the Army and served with the Signal Corps in the Philippines. When he got out of the service in 1948, he attended Pitt-Oakland’s engineering school, graduating in 1952.
Mom, meanwhile, worked at Gimbel’s downtown store in Pittsburgh after graduating from high school. It was during Dad’s college years that he started dating Mom.
One humorous story during my parents’ courtship was when my dad had informed my mom and my Aunt Alice that he had purchased a new car, whose name started with a “C.”
Mom and Aunt Alice quizzed him enthusiastically.
Cadillac? No. Chrysler?
No. Chevrolet? No.
It turns out that Dad had bought a small, gas-efficient car called a Crosley, which was produced between 1939 and 1953.
While the sisters were no doubt disappointed, Dad was in good company. Other Crosley owners included President Dwight Eisenhower, Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine and Frank Lloyd Wright.
In 1951, Dad proposed to Mom on St. Patrick’s Day.
Their wedding was almost a year later. There was snow on the ground when they were married in February 1952 at Holy Rosary, the church they attended since childhood.
Dad was 23 and Mom was 21 when they married.
Mom’s older sister (my Aunt Alice), now living in Atlanta with her husband of two years, traveled by train to be Mom’s maid of honor. Mom’s older brother (my Uncle Don) was serving in the Navy during the Korean War, but was able to attend the wedding as an usher in the wedding party. Dad’s younger brother, Ronny, served as best man.
Mom’s parents were there, and Pop-Pop gave her away.
For Dad, the moment must have been bittersweet; his father and stepmother were present, as Dad’s mother
had passed unexpectedly
two years prior from a heart attack.
Fast-forward to 2002, when Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th anniversary with family and friends. A lot had happened during those years, including their move to
Johnstown a year after their wedding.
They also had three sons along the way, who gave them much joy as well as some gray hair.
However, we lost Dad unexpectedly later that year, turning a year of celebration into one of sadness and grief.
I have long expressed disappointment in educational institutions’ apparent lack of interest in teaching history, which filters down to all history, including family history.
Family history is important to those involved, but how much do kids today know of their ancestors?
My parents’ history together was unique, in that it had covered most of their lives, going back to grade school. What a life they shared, including their 50 years of marriage.
I can only imagine how
difficult each anniversary has been for Mom since Dad’s passing.
But we take comfort in the fact that Dad is still with us
in spirit. His presence is
still felt during these past
10 years, and will continue on with us.
Bill Eggert is a Johnstown native. You can read his blog at http://thebillvilleblog.word-press.com.