Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Thinking back, there were several reasons ...

Thinking back, there were several reasons Walter Frank “Chub” Gerard, 27, should not have married Sue Emelyn Meyers, 23. He was an electrical engineering student at MU, and I was a junior in University High School. We saw each other at Little Bonne Femme Church south of town, but I think he didn’t know I existed. Stupidly, I sent this Gerard fellow a comic valentine. He wrote back: “Listen old Top...I’d like to know you better...Why didn’t you stop this morning, you’d have been as welcome as a rose in January.” The comic valentine wasn’t as stupid as I thought!

That was during the horrible Depression. We began our friendship by eating sack lunches together in his truck. Soon he took me to the Presbyterian Student Center, where fellows took turns cooking 15-cent Sunday night suppers for the girls. This group did a lot of no cost -- fun things. We sang and played games in the winter and once hiked from Rocheport to the big cave in a hard rain. Drying our socks and other clothing was interrupted by someone shouting, “Get out of the cave at once; a wall of water is coming.” We left the food and wet socks and got out fast. The group felt like family after that close call.

At my church, our friends were mostly young married couples. We played cards, swam, picnicked, fished, cooked out and had lots of parties. In winter, the fellows made sled runners for a farm wagon and we had some wonderful star-lit horse-drawn trips in that sled. Chub and I hosted a Halloween party where he wore only a draped sheet and looked just like Mahatma Gandhi.

University tuition and fees were near $50, and that was a lot! Dad and Mom sacrificed personal pleasures to keep my brother and me in college. I made a little money selling blackberries, gooseberries, walnuts and Christmas trees. Chub helped me cut, carry and deliver trees. He helped Dad on the farm occasionally just so we could be together.

We used Dad’s mules and big old scraper and leveled a place for tennis, but the joy was in the doing; we couldn’t afford rackets and a net. We swam at the free city pool in Columbia; we skated on our ponds. Mom played the piano while Chub sang and I fiddled. When I fiddled for square dances, Chub was learning to dance. After midnight he’d take me home in his truck, and I often fell asleep with my head on his lap.

By 1935 I was teaching 10 hours a week at Christian College for a tiny salary that doubled for the second semester. Chub’s meager income came from hauling milk from about 10 farms south of Columbia. He didn’t make much more than his expenses, and he had student loans to pay. We never talked about marriage, but I guess we both felt we would someday have money enough to establish a home. My mother’s basic instructions, before I was old enough to date, were, “Save your kisses for your husband.” I knew what she meant, and Chub and I never violated the underlying principle of that advice.

Our married friends were somewhat older than we were. On summers Sundays we often took picnic lunch to a great swimming spot on the Maries River near Westphalia. We also had fish fries or got together at our various homes. Chub and I entertained when Mom and Dad were visiting elsewhere. Four of us singles drove Dad’s model A Ford sedan to Chicago to the World’s Fair in 1936. We stowed our luggage under the car and put seats flat and slept like sardines -- my brother and I in the middle.

Chub bought a 1927 Chevrolet chassis from Dad for $15 and an old coupe body from Gibbs’ Auto for $20. We once drove that car to Illinois to visit his relatives and had no problems at all.

After seven years of courtship, we were 23 and 27 years old. We abandoned sensible reasoning and called Carl Agee, dean of the School of Religion, and said, “We want a small wedding in my home on December 27.” He obliged. Then we went on a short, old-fashioned honeymoon.

Mother died several months before we married, and I’ve been forever grateful for her simple philosophy of “saving...for your husband.” Maybe that’s why this marriage lasted all these years.

Last Saturday our Nancy and Walt and their families helped us celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary!

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