Thursday, October 21, 2010

A 1940's Romance

I love this picture of my grandparents. There is just something romantic about black and white images from the past. I've always been a fan of classic movies, and I think it's because that was a time when people believed in love. They weren't caught up in the possibilities of a relationship not working out, the statistics of divorce, and they didn't rationalize away the magic. When I look at this photo, I see a young happy couple and I think of their story. My grandpa had joined the U.S. Navy and was going to serve in the south pacific in WWII. Before leaving the country, he went to a church singing. He was standing outside of the building and saw a beautiful young face through the church window. He winked at her and she turned away as fast as she could, causing him to laugh. Well of course her little sister acted up, and my grandmother had to take her outside, and this is where my grandfather made his move. I think it was love at first sight for him. I imagine he had the biggest smile and twinkling eyes when he talked to my grandmother, who probably had a slight smile and mystery about her. When her family was getting ready to go home, this young sailor knew he only had one chance. If that car had driven away that day, that would have been it. She would just have been the prettiest girl he had ever seen, one day in his youth, when he had gone to a gospel singing. I think it's the desperation of this time period that I love so much, people didn't have time for insecurities. My grandfather walked up to her car and told her, in front of her family, that he was leaving to go to war, and he wanted to write her. Well, off to war he went, and she stayed on her family's farm in Northwest Arkansas. While at sea, he wrote her letters. I can almost picture him in his bunk, writing to my grandmother, thinking of the way she had looked that day at the church. He told me that sometimes he wrote poetry to her. There was one letter, where he wrote that when the bullets would fly through the air, and he didn't know if he would make it through the night, he thought of the sunlight in her lovely hair. I have wondered before if I get my poetic tendencies from him. I think it's interesting that those were the days where men where the manliest of men, but they weren't afraid to be romantic. The other day, I thought about what it must have been like to live back then. Men, going off to fight, not knowing if they would ever return. Women, knowing that the loves of their lives or the precious sons that they could still picture as their little boys, may only come back in wooden boxes. They knew that there would be a chance that their arms would never hold their husbands, sons, brothers, or fathers again; that instead they would only have that of a folded up flag to hold on to. I can't imagine the courage of those men. They didn't see the military as a career option, they saw it as their duty. It was written on their souls to defend and protect their country, and to do so with their very lives. So I imagine my grandfather, young and brave, considering it an honor to protect the honor of his country. I imagine when he was in a world that faced death everyday, he thought of my grandmother, and he remembered that the world can also be beautiful and full of life. She wrote him letters too, but they were not the romantic kind, she told him about the farm and the cows. She was probably playing hard to get, but I bet it helped him escape for those moments, when he read her words and they took him back to the hills and beautiful fields of Arkansas. He came home from the war, and let her know he was back by buzzing the rooftop of her house with a plane. They started dating, and as all romantic movies of their time end, they were married. I have often heard my grandfather say that she wore the most beautiful white dress one could imagine on their wedding day. They purchased a house on an 80 acre farm, and literally built their lives there. Today, after 6 kids, several grandchildren, and even a few great grandchildren, they are 85 and 83 years old, and together they still live in that same house amongst the hills of Arkansas.

By. Rebecca Houston


  1. I love your grandparents' story! They are so precious! I meant to tell you too that I read your post on (in)courage and loved it! My friend Stephanie that I lead cell group with at Fellowship started (in)courage!!