As my last few postings have indicated, I didn't move very fast in the courtship arena. From first date (Dec. 1960) until marriage (July 24, 1965) was almost 5 years. During that 5 years, I had been in Westpac three times, Panama once and numerous local operations. Of course I had also been in Norfolk VA for the year prior to our marriage. We had known each other since I was 10 and she was 5. We had dated for almost 5 years. Wow, they must have really known each other. Wrong! After the wedding it was, "Who is that woman?" Of course she was saying, "Who is that man?"
When I went to Norfolk in July of 1964, I reported to the USS Mahnomen County (LST 912) as Executive Officer. Shortly after reporting, I learned that the ship had been chosen to be a test and evaluation platform for a new class of LSTs to be built with a completely new concept. LSTs were essentially floating box cars about 300 feet long that could carry a load of tanks (or other vehicles, even about 1000 tons of cargo.) The original LST had a shallow draft in the bow which enabled the ship to run up on a beach, open her bow doors, discharge her cargo, retract and head back to sea. The new concept was for two massive derricks to be installed on the main deck to deploy a 75 ton ramp out onto the beach. The tests were successful -- a new class of 20 ships was built in the 70s using this concept. I will discuss this in some later posts, the only issue related to our marriage is that these tests were very important to the Navy and even necessitated a postponement to the wedding (three weeks before it was to take place) and caused me to be very busy after the wedding. Here is a picture of the ship when we were involved in the final tests.
We were engaged during the Christmas season of 1964. I then returned to Norfolk to continue my work on the ship. We finally were able to set the date for our wedding, so I flew home to Bellflower a week before the ceremony. This was a busy week. We had to do all of the normal things, get a license, blood tests, get fitted for tuxedo etc. But, the Pastor wanted us to have some marriage counseling also. This was pretty easy since the counseling was composed of watching three little film strips: Sex, Child rearing and Money. I was insulted -- but, what were my alternatives. I was 28 years old and had been a Zoology major in college. Sex! Really! Well there was a lot I could have learned, but that film strip wasn't going to do it. We didn't have any children, so that was a worthless exercise. Finally, money (actually I could have learned a lot here), Linda was a bank teller and I had been on my own financially for 10 years. The thing I really learned from this exercise was that pre-marital counseling was important enough to do something meaningful. This came in handy when I became a pastor. No Filmstrips!
The wedding was going to be a fairly large affair, so we all got together for the rehearsal in Friday night, July 23rd. The rehearsal went well, so we went to my mother's house for a small buffet dinner. Nothing fancy and didn't cost much. I recommend it. Here is a picture of the wedding party.
Saturday, our Wedding Day dawned bright and cheery -- but I was completely panicked! What was I doing. You can't imagine how much I feared making a commitment like this. My parents and my grandparents had both been divorced. I saw from observing my parents' divorce that this wasn't pleasant. I didn't want to repeat this, but thought it inevitable. Then my best man, John Pletcher came over and we went out and played golf. I calmed down -- and we did it. The ceremony went well except that my best man dropped the rings and they clattered down the aisle. Oh well, there should be at least one thing that goes wrong. I will finish the marriage weekend in the next posting. Meanwhile here are the rest of our wedding pictures: