As I was about to crawl into bed last night, it occurred to me that it was the Ides of March, a date I should have been paying more attention to. Just a few days earlier, I had been writing about that date. And unlike what the Ides conjures of for some people, a day of foreboding, it was a day of new beginnings for my parents. They were married the night of March 15, 1944, in Springville, AL, at the home of my grandparents.
They had met on the previous Halloween at a dance at Pensacola Naval Base's Whiting Field. Mama was a link trainer in the WAVES and Daddy was a naval combat pilot. They were smitten with each other right off the bat and thrilled to have so much in common. Both were from large families with strong Methodist roots and both were educators by profession. By Christmas, they had decided they were meant for each other and started planning a very simple wedding ceremony that would be performed by my grandfather, the Rev. J.T. Self.
They thought Daddy would be done with his training phase in Pensacola by the 14th and they would drive up to Alabama that evening. Daddy's brother Harris who worked in the shipyard in nearby Mobile, Al, had offered to drive them up. As it turned out, processing out of the base for the next duty station took a lot longer than expected. It was actually late on the afternoon of the 15th before they were able to get away. Harris was driving so fast that a traffic cop stopped them just south of Greenville, AL. Daddy in all his infinite charm (and it didn't hurt that he was still in uniform as was Mama) explained the situation to the officer who let them go with a warning.
It was after 10 p.m. before they pulled up in Granddaddy's yard. Some of the guests, Daddy's grandmother and aunt, had given up and already driven back home to Bessemer. Of course, the courthouse where they needed to obtain a marriage license was closed up tight. Not to be deterred, Daddy hopped in Harris' car and drove to the home of a judge, waking him from his sleep. Surprised, the judge fortunately was a good-humored man. He produced the necessary document with a laugh.
Just before midnight, Mama and Daddy said "I do!" in the shortest wedding ceremony Mama said she had ever seen. They then rushed to the bus station and caught the last bus out for the night to Birmingham where they would spend their 4-day honeymoon before having to report back to duty.
About the time I was noticing the date last night, I thought about what they were doing 64 years ago. At that exact time, they would have been sleeping during the hour-long bus ride, worn out from the busy day behind them, but holding hands as newlyweds with a lifetime ahead of them.
I slept well.