Dating Betty

I'm finding it difficult to write about MEETING BETTY or for any stories that sounded like others I've written in the past. I've started the subject several times and hope to finish it this time with the idea that it may be the last of what could be called my autobiographies. (I don't remember calling my writings as autobiographies before.) Because of my difficulties typing, I have enlisted the help of Dave to do typing, to help writing, to do editing and processing the story and finalizing it into the book. The wording may be a little different than my previous writings since I'm not used to dictating my thoughts to someone and I feel embarrassed in doing it. Now I've started again and hope to finish before long.

The first date I had with Betty (not counting the square dance as a date) was in the New Year (1952) and it was fun though I can't remember what we did and where we went. I found out that she was a Navy nurse scheduled to spend six months in Bremerton. I liked her and I felt that I'd better start planning on how to get her to extend her time in Bremerton and how I could compete with the Navy. The navy, however, came to my rescue and her stay was extended and circumstances further happenned and she has stayed in Bremerton ever since. A start on the program became a reality when she agreed to go out with me again.

One date which I remember was on February 28. It was the first date on which the subject of marriage came up and may have been an omen of things to come. We were returning to the Nurses' Quarters at the ending of our date and were listening to the radio when the announcer cut in on the music with "Ladies, it is now the time for you to take advantage of the hour and the day to ask your boyfriend the question you have been waiting for him to ask you." It was Leap Year, February 29th, 1952. Betty said I didn't have to worry, but I did because I wasn't sure of her feeling about marriage -- marriage to me that is. Actually it shouldn't have bothered me since it was about the first date and I was worrying about getting a date at some time right after "Leap Year". Some of our dates were trips to Aberdeen, where we did things with my cousin Violet's daughter Connie (Pratt) and Connie's boyfriend Fred Holland and cousins Babe and Thelma (Ross). We did various things with them during our visits like digging for clams, swimming in the ocean, playing tennis and pinochle. We had lots of fun except one time while playing tennis when Betty tried to return Fred's shot with her nose, it ended the game for the day.

While playing a heated game of pinochle one evening at the Pratt home, Fred stopped the play to ask me a question. "Say, Ed, who do you think is going to get married first, Betty and you, or Connie and I?" There was sudden silence at the table, and a reddening of faces. The idea of marriage had been in my mind, but I hadn't had the nerve to talk about it with Betty. I was stunned, maybe as much as Betty was and I don't know whether Connie and Fred had talked about it either. The cards were on the table and I don't mean the pinochle cards. I can't remember how I answered Fred just then but I think both Betty and I were stunned. However, I felt a pleasant relief now that my thoughts could be discussed red faced and all. I think Connie and Fred were relieved too. We returned from Aberdeen quite late from the pinochle game, and I was still reeling from the question without discussing it. The next day Betty and I went for a drive to the North Shore Drive across the bay from Twanoh State Park. I pulled the car to the side of the road and got up nerve and asked Betty if she would marry me. She said she would have to think about it -- I suppose she was going to ask her friends what they thought of the idea. She said, "Maybe we can talk about it tomorrow. "Tomorrow" finally came, and we drove to the same place where I'd asked her to marry me. She knew why I had driven there, and she had an answer ready -- she would marry me. I felt like I was going to blow out of the car. After talking awhile and expressing our feelings, we agreed to be married in November of 1952.

I think I bought an engagement ring the following day. I had prepared for the time for buying a ring by putting all my loose change from my pocket at the end of our dates into a can, and by this time the can was full. That's the money I used to pay for the ring. She was pleased with the ring, and she wears it now. I'm not sure whether she helped picking it out.

Oh, the answer to Fred's question who would get married first. Betty and I married first. Once on a drive around Hood Canal we saw a small gift shop and Betty wanted to see what they had that she could take to her parents as a souvenir. She was going home (to Alton, Illinois) the next day on vacation and felt she couldn't go home empty handed. She finally found a clam shell clock and was happy to have something to give.

Something else happened as a result of Betty's vacation. I brought her to the airport the next day and I sort of missed her right away -- so much that I wrote her a letter that evening followed by another letter every day she was gone. Betty's mother started wondering what was happening because she didn't know that her daughter was dating an engineer from the US Naval Shipyard. I don't know how Betty explained my letters but I'm sure they knew that something was happening involving their daughter. I can't remember when or what time of year all this happened but the sun was shining. . During the year we did some traveling to Alton and to Mullan. Our visit to Alton was to give me a chance to meet Betty's parents and her brothers and to show me her home town and meet her friends that were still living in the area.