Category Archives: teen age marriage

Lonnie and Sherry: 50 Years

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I think it is terrific when I hear of a long-lasting married couple

(fifty years later this year!) who still enjoy their times together.

Lonnie and Sherry met while he was only 21 and she was even

younger, at age 16. They would talk to each other while supervised

by her parents or her brother, as time went by. They even had to sit

one in the front driving (Lonnie) and her brother, Joey, in the

“shotgun” position. Sherry and her friend, Julie, would be in the back.

I am so surprised that their parents even let a 16 year old out with a

man five years older!

Lonnie brings this up abruptly while strolling down my lane in the

distribution center during the first year I was struggling to work there.

It was a sweltering hot day and he was as cool as a cucumber! He tells

me that the weather reminds me of the time he met his wife.

I welcomed the stories since they managed to get my mind off the heat.

I was just adjusting to lack of air conditioning and the heavy work load,

too.

Lonnie is almost 70 years old now. He works the job for the health and

life insurance, part time for 30 hours a week. He has told me they are “set”

in their finances and have a great retirement amount waiting. He adds, he

has decided that will be at age 72!

Now, just so you know, he used to do my job, which is admittedly harder

and requires heavy lifting at a faster rate. I feel he has done his time, so

he deserves a less stressful position. Now, he is called a “put away” man,

which its department is referred to as, “replenishment” or “replen.”

Lonnie told me the first time he met me that Sherry’s parents were hoping

someone would “rescue” her. She was a beautiful young woman with raven

black hair that she now softens with a reddish toned hair dye.

Lonnie has shown me his wife as a great grandmother in pictures. I have

seen photos of the two of them in matching dancing outfits. Also, he has let

me hold his well worn, ragged edged photograph of her as a sweet, innocent

16 year old beauty. Her looks equaled many movie starlets of that period.

“Why did she need rescued?” I queried.

Sherry’s family lived in the rural part of a backwoods Kentucky county. Their

home was hid up in a hill where there were plenty of rusty, old and used cars

piled up around trailers and simple houses.

Lonnie swears Sherry’s family “saw him coming a mile away.”

Lonnie was a “city slicker” with an associate’s degree in business from a local

college. He was selling products at night and working a day job. His goal was

to:  “Get out of Kentucky and live in a big city in Ohio.”

Lonnie was out at a local bar near his college when he met Joey. Both were

equally loquacious and gregarious. I am using my big words to indicate they

were super outgoing and friendly with the ladies! In their eagerness to conquer

the room full of young women, they became fast friends. Not too many days

later, Lonnie found his way over to Joey’s house up in the hills. He had come

to ask him to join him for a drive in his new car. (Oh, oh! guys don’t get mad, I

am sure that Lonnie told me the type of car and it was a really cool kind of car.

Not a convertible, but it was supposed to be the impressive kind in those days.)

Lonnie happened to be introduced on this occasion to Joey’s parents and his

one and only sister.

“Big mistake!” Lonnie said, “I was a goner from the moment I spotted Sherry!

She stole my heart on that hot summer night!”

Joey and Lonnie went off to a local watering hole. Lonnie pelted Joey with

questions about Sherry, as they played several games of pool. Joey said that

Sherry had never been out on a date, she was allowed to be “friends only”

with boys. Their mother had been pregnant with Joey at Sherry’s age and

would not want her history to repeat itself.

Lonnie did not wait until Sherry was much older before he started courting

her. He tried to persuade her parents to allow her out with him alone; that

was not going to happen! So, he cooperated by taking Joey and Sherry’s best

friend as chaperones.

One year after the courting stage went on “forever” in Lonnie’s rakish mind,

Sherry’s father was asked to meet with Lonnie. He decided to pick her father

up, take him to a very fine restaurant in those parts, and they sat and talked

“man to man.” Lonnie showed her father his bank account that had $1000

in it. That was ‘like a million to them,’ he recounted. Sherry’s father asked if

his intentions were “honorable” like the fathers in old black and white movies

used to do.

Lonnie told him his dream was to marry Sherry and to take her to Ohio where

they would own a nice home and invite her parents to come and visit often.

He wanted to be given permission to ask for her hand in marriage.

Lonnie’s long range plan would be to someday have enough money to have

her parents move up North and live down the street in a house he would buy.

Then, Lonnie and Sherry would have children together. Their grandchildren

would be close for them to play with and enjoy, he told Sherry father.

He painted pictures in the air like crazy and Sherry’s father granted him

permission to marry his daughter. He was very happy that Sherry would be

given such wonderful opportunities.

Lonnie asked Sherry to marry him and it was not as smooth as he had planned.

He had picked her up and brought her to the nicest restaurant, the one he had

taken her Dad out the week before.

These days, he supposes, people would say, “It didn’t go down like he thought

it would.”

Sherry looked down at her plate. She looked up at Lonnie’s eager face. She

glanced around the restaurant. Finally, she swallowed and said, “I am not sure.”

Sherry liked Lonnie but he was the first she had really kissed and she felt she

was still young and attractive enough to have more choices. She said, “Thank you.

You are sweet, Lonnie.”

Lonnie spent another six months trying to win Sherry over before she turned 18.

He knew there were more fish in the sea. He also knew she could have her pick

of them!

Lonnie had permission to take her to movies, to restaurants and they also would

stop on the way home on a cliff overlooking the little town where she had been

raised. He was five years older and more experienced. He admits he started to

use a little more technique and he tried to “put the moves on her.”

Eventually, whatever button he pushed, Sherry capitulated and said, “Yes.”

They married, they moved to a nice house in Marion, Ohio along the main tree

lined boulevard. It had taken him a few trips to find a good paying job. He also

made arrangements to bring his evening sales job up to Ohio. He felt that they

were on the path to forever and he was so happy.

Like I started this story, every time I see Lonnie he tells me a little more about

his life with Sherry. I have known him for five years in June, 2013. I have yet

to meet Sherry but I do know she never worked in a job outside of her home.

She is a big gardener and cans vegetables still. I have had pickled beets,

banana peppers, and applesauce, among many other items Lonnie has

brought to me in a paper bag. I send little notes of gratitude back to Sherry.

Sherry bakes bread, makes cookies and I have also been the beneficiary of these

delicious treats. I am not sure why Lonnie (who is only 13 years older than I)

has taken me under his wing. I think, somehow along the way, he has heard

me say, “My life is much more simple now.”

Or I may have told him on a winter’s morning, “I miss my garage!” I speculate he

thinks of his wife’s and his own comforts and just feels like sharing them.

I am thankful for the friendship and also, the wonderful story that is now almost

told.

They live deliriously happy and have nights where they win dancing contests,

days where they are on cruises or cruising on their tandem bicycle to the library

to pick up some books and films to watch. The couple have her mother still around

and her father has been buried in the local cemetery. Their only son lives not too

far away with his wife and family.

Sherry’s brother, Joey, and his wife, Julie, also live up in Marion. It is very pleasant

to know another happily ever after story.

Broken in Spirit

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I have a male friend who has been broken in spirit for quite

awhile. He was only 11 when he lost his innocence. At the

time, he thought he should go around and brag. He was proud

of the older babysitter who had taken him to bed. He was way

“ahead of the game!” Or so he thought.

I think back at my age 11 and see myself so happy, carefree and

learning how to be grown up. Sometimes I would like trying coffee

or having a sip of an alcoholic drink that was left over from my

parents’ parties. The morning after, my brothers and I would eat

the mixed nuts, nibble on the leftover appetizers, crackers and

cheese, and a sip of the drinks. I usually would think they were too

strong and not like them. Occasionally, I would find a maraschino

cherry that had the bourbon taste from an Old Fashioned. That was

good.

At the same time, I was also told by my mother the facts of life. Along

with my brothers, neighbor kids and all. One day in the summer time

my brothers and I had come back from our morning helping at Head Start

and having stopped at the grocery story on the way home. We were unloading

the car of groceries when a familiar blue box fell out of a bag. My brother

asked, “Why are our napkins in a box now instead of the regular package?”

(You may remember the box would be labeled “Sanitary Napkins!”)

Anyway, my mother said she would put them away in the bathroom and tell

us later why.

My Mom was a cool and savvy person who knew whatever she taught us, we

would pass around the neighborhood. So, she got on the phone, (summers off

from teaching, other mom’s at home…) and asked the parents if it would be

okay to do sex education with a group of the older kids at her house and she

would serve cookies and lemonade. All the parents she called, I am sure felt

relieved to hear the news, and said, “Of course.”

That is how we all three learned about the birds and the bees, myself 11, my

next younger brother 9 1/2 and my youngest brother was 7. The neighborhood

kids asked a lot of good questions. It makes me chuckle now, because someone

had seen a big “69” on the sidewalk down the street and asked their parents

“What does that mean?” They knew it must mean something, because the Dad

had stammered and said, “Go ask your mother.” And the Mom had said, “Never

mind.”

My Mom told them the meaning of “69.” All of us looked at the floor and could not

look at the opposite sex in the room for awhile after that!

Also she told us, this is rather important, that you should love your own body, be

proud of it. That you should never feel ashamed or do anything that makes you feel

uncomfortable. She emphasized that we should tell our parents if we were asked to

do something with our clothes off. Even if it were a grandpa, aunt or uncle. First

ask, she said, to make sure you were not being hurt or something bad may happen.

This audience was so much easier than her high school English or Spanish classes!

No rude noises or smart remarks.

Actually, we were all kind of quiet until we each thought of something like that

question mentioned.

Finally, she told us that we should treasure something called “virginity” and

not give it away until we were at least 18. She used this number because she

said to us, “That is when men can go to war.”

We asked her more details and she had some brochures to pass out. She had

these from a year before when she had thought about doing this very same

thing. After all, one of my girlfriends had her period at age 10 and that had

started the wheels turning in Mom’s head!

Years later, I am happy to tell you that my teen aged  brothers and I were open

and honest. We talked about first base and all when we were dating and asked

a few questions between ourselves. My parents would have been sensitive and

answered more as we grew but we used each other as references. We made it past

18 and not bragging, I made it to 19.

I used the same concept of using anatomically correct terms with my three children.

My two daughters made it to age 19 and my son lost his at age 16. We talked about

masturbation and trying not to go “below the belt” too soon. “Once you go too far,

you can never go back,” I preached as a single mother.

I am appalled that my male friend lost his need for  playing “kick the can,”

“capture the flag,” and “hide and seek” along with other childhood favorite games.

My guy friend claims that from the moment his 15 year old babysitter taught him all

the “fun things he could do” at age 11, he lacked interest in games all together.

My friend, sadly, also stopped paying attention to school and homework. It all

became a blur until he married “the hottest girl in high school.” They had three

children before age 21! He has been married and divorced four times. (Even that

I feel bad for, because he did want to “do the right thing and get married to each

woman.”)

This is not to judge that part of the story. The loss of innocence warped him

and it made a huge impact on his decision making throughout his life!

On the late night that he shared this story over the phone, I could hear

him snuffling. I asked him did he need a shoulder to cry on? He declined my

coming over just to hold him. I repeated, “Everything’s going to be all right.”

He cares now and wishes now, that he could redo his life from right before that

moment in time. He would like to make it come out differently. If he could “turn

back time” he would go directly there.

He wishes his life could be started all over again from age 11 on. I have read

a few blogs with quite hair raising childhood stories that could compete with his

story. He is a human being with as many human frailties as we all have. Maybe

just slanted a little differently. It makes me want to “fix” his life but cannot even

contemplate that or try to. He will be my friend and only a friend. He probably

could use some counseling sessions with a professional to work out some of

the anguish and pain. Any suggestions that could ease his blaming himself for

something that someone did to him?

High school crushes, loves, and then family

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There are about three couples I could write the very same

story with different details and special fun escapades! Lots

of pranks, plunges and stunts, because these people started

out near the age where “play” still was part of their lives!

Innocence and wonder accompany some of their stories.

One couple have known each other since junior high. Another

couple have known each other since high school. The last one

did not attend the same schools yet their paths crossed, met

and intertwined like vines on a trellis.

All three couples have lasted more than 30 years. I am in awe

of them, of their ability at such young ages to just KNOW they

LOVED! They chose to go against the norm and try marrying

before they left their teens!

I could tell each pair’s names but it is not important as much as

the magic, fate, or God that led them to each other. I hear from

two of the couples every Christmas. I enjoy their stories, their

news and share in their trials and tribulations. I have a bond

with them, more than they may guess. Because I feel like I have

invested a small part of my heart in their love and marriage stories.

I keep them off and on in my prayers. I feel that they have let me in

on a secret.

The secret of how to make love last. How to make it grow tighter,

woven closer and how to make it looser when necessary to allow

more growth. Some have had to overcome obstacles like a deaf child,

moving across the country and adjusting, and last, losing jobs and

much of their retirement.

I am hoping that maybe you will tell me a story or two about your

parents, your friends, or someone that you know that started out so

young and made it work. How did this happen? Was it faith? Was

it the ties that started with common childhoods? Similar values?

I so hope that you have  been able to witness this unusual occurrence

in a world where divorce divides up half of the married couples and their

endings are not as happy as these three couples I cherish and treasure.

Tell me about your happy ending, if it started as a young person and how

did you get drawn to that person?