My Mom was married and divorced before she married my Dad. She had a child from that union, my sister, Arletta Smith. Because of her past relationship with Arletta’s father, which was far less than good and her own Father, who was no less than a monster, Mom did not have a lot of faith in men or romance.
With that tidbit we can start the story.
Let’s set the scene. 1942 Lawndale, California. World War 2 is going strong. My Mom lived above the Rexall Drug store on the corner of 147th and Hawthorne Blvd, with her Father. Arletta was living with her paternal Grandparents at the time. The drug store is close to Leuzinger High School, where the Army had set up camp, with pitched tents, on a lot nearby. The idea was for soldiers to be close by to use the shower facilities. The two places are only a ½ a mile apart.
Mom decided to go down to the Rexall Drug Store to make a purchase. When she walked in she noticed a Serviceman playing a pinball machine. Now, Mom was a real looker, she had servicemen asking her out all the time. Because of the layout of the store she had to walk down the aisle by the pinball machine. The Serviceman, did not even glance up from his game. This kind of piqued Mom’s curiosity. She definitely was not use to this kind of reaction when she walked by a man. So she doubled back and again not even a sideways glance. This called for action, after all what was up with this guy? Mom stopped at the pinball machine, said, “Hello”. They struck up more or less a one sided conversation where they exchanged names. His name was Albert, her future husband, my Dad. Mom, invited him up to the apartment for a cup of coffee, a sandwich and to read his cards. Sideline, my Mom use to read palms, tea leaves, and playing cards. Not for profit, more for fun. Now Dad was from the old country way of thinking, so you would have thought that this would not be his cup of tea, but there he was at her door waiting for her to answer. She invited him in and so there it begins.
When entering her home Dad saw Mom’s Father. Dad recognized him from the day before, walking down the street, clearly inebriated and looking disheveled. Dad thinking that Mom’s Father was a drunkin bum, down on his luck, invited him in to his mess tent and offered him a meal, which her Father gladly accepted.
So the dating begins. Mom had the car and Dad had the inspiration. Now, why would I use that choice of words? Because it would take someone very special to win my Mom’s heart. Only 2 times come to mind of dates that Mom talked about.
Mom decided to take Dad to, as she put it, a strip joint. Usual you say, yes. But there was a reason to her madness. Her reasoning was to see how Dad’s reaction would be to the naked women. Well, let’s say Dad passed with flying colors, because he turned his chair around so that his back was to the stage. He would have no part of it. This truly impressed my Mom.
Dad had been a perfect gentleman so far and Mom was falling hard. Almost a month later Mom was driving and Dad asked her to please go somewhere to park. They had been out and the evening was coming to an end. When asked that, Mom’s thought was ok, here it comes. I knew it was too good to be true. So she found a street light and parked right under it. To her surprise, Dad had no intention of getting fresh, instead it was right there that he asked her to marry him. He proposed just short of a month to the day of their meeting. Mom accepted and then a match was made in heaven.