table

Another Day at the Senior Center

At the senior center where Frank and I live, it’s customary to join strangers at meals, and that’s what we did today at lunch, pairing up with a couple quite a bit older than we are. Sissie, the wife, had big black eyes that danced as she talked. Bud, her husband, sat ramrod straight. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, parted his hair down one side.

Sissie could hardly wait for introductions to get out of the way. “We’re celebrating our wedding anniversary today,” she said, too excited to sit still in her chair. “Guess which one.”

“Sixty-five,” I said, taking a not-so-wild stab.

“Sixty—”

“Seven.” Bud finished the number. He grinned at her. “We’re shooting for seventy.”

“Be careful of shooting,” I said in a lame effort at humor.

Bubbling over with joy and a new audience, Sissie told us how two Georgia natives met at LSU just after World War II. She was climbing aboard a truck for a Tri-Delt hayride when Bud spotted her from across the street. He had been a student on a golf scholarship before the war, had fought with the Navy, returned to school and resumed the scholarship. He asked a friend her name, and one thing led to another. Except that in the telling, Sissie mentioned one of his girlfriends who now lived in the senior center. “I’ll tell you about her in a minute,” she said.

The minute stretch on as we heard one vignette after the other, all cute stories, about their early romance and first married years. When Sissie finally wound down, I asked about the girl friend who now lived nearby.

“What?” Sissie said.

“Bud’s girlfriend, the one you said lived here,” I continued. Bud and Frank nodded yes to her.

“What?” She turned on Bud. “You have a girlfriend here?”

Her eyes were wide, her smile gone. She glared at Bud.

“No, no,” I said, rushing to Bud’s rescue, “the girlfriend you told us about, the one you said you’d tell about.” Frank and Bud tried to remind her also, the three of us talking at once.

Bud picked up the remininsces, easing the topic away from old girlfriends and in a minute Sissie was laughing and telling tales again. That’s when I noticed how she relied on him and how ever so subtly he cued her along. Her smile back in place, she left for her hair appointment. “I’m getting ready for our big celebration tonight,” she said.

I exhaled. My probing wasn’t going to break them up after sixty-seven years.

World War II Plane

Looking Back on World War II

August 14 marked the anniversary of the end of World War II.

What follows here are some random thoughts and observations, two prompted by Facebook posts from friends and others from friends new to us but for whom WWII was all too real.

Bill Keller remembered the war’s end when he was a toddler in Albertville, Alabama. I don’t recall V-J Day, when Japan surrendered. My memory was the same as Bill’s for V-E Day when the Germans surrendered. We climbed into our cars in Gadsden, Alabama, and drove downtown, everyone parading up and down
Broad Street blowing the car horns. Frank remembers being in a movie when the manager stopped the show to announce the surrender, and then they emptied out and blew car horns in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Apparently car horns were the noisemakers at hand for much of the country.

Ordinarily Mary Howe, age 91, is mild and pleasant but she was red-faced and steaming last week. Someone at Lenbrook gathered all the WWII veterans together for dinner—and omitted Mary. Who would have been the only woman. Mary served as a nurse. I don’t know if she’s calmed down yet. I’m certain John, her boyfriend, is still hearing about her slight.

One Facebook post this morning showed a video made by a college class where other students were asked who won the Civil War. Only one could answer the question, and she had trouble with it. She was the only one who could name the current Vice-President of the United States. The one who posted the video lamented about the ignorance of young people today.

But, I reminded my friend who posted the video, it’s not just young people who are lacking in history and civics. I remembered the teacher who introduced the recent Memorial Day speaker as a veteran of World War Eleven.