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 relationships with some men, 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 was 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 the High School to use the shower facilities. The two places are only ¼ of 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. 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 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 when he saw him 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, to 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.
Their marriage took place on July 14th, 1942, exactly one month after they met, at the chapel on Military grounds in Sawtelle, in Santa Monica, California. It was a beautiful church nestled among trees where squirrels played and birds sang. A very serene and peaceful atmosphere. Which was really appreciated during this time of War.
Albert, my Dad was in his dress uniform looking very handsome and Lucille, my Mom wore a pale blue dress with a braided collar. She was as pretty as can be. They made a stunning couple. Standing up for them as witnesses’ was Edith Lee, Mom’s older sister, and Art, Dad’s older brother who was also serving in the Army.
It was a simple military ceremony with the Army Chaplin Titus, officiating the union. After saying their I do’s, they exited the church where servicemen formed a Saber Arch, which is a formed tunnel, in this case, with their rifles for the couple to pass through.
On to the Honeymoon
Because it was during the time of World War 2, the Bride, Lucille and the Groom, Albert were very fortunate to be able to spend the first night of their marriage together. So after the Wedding, Mom and Dad returned to their home. Dad was anxious to get this marriage consummated. The home was rented in Los Angeles, California at 1767 ½ Cotner Avenue. It had a large walnut tree that spread over the top of the house. You could hear walnuts fall on the roof. Squirrels were always busy playing by the tree and eating the nuts.
Unknown to them at the time, their friends had been busy preparing their home for their honeymoon arrival. The Newly Weds were about to have an old fashion Shivaree. Their friends had short sheeted the bed that is when they put a smaller sheet on a bigger bed. They also crumpled crackers and spread them between the sheets. That of course was just the beginning as there would be a party going outside to disturb the two person party inside.
Once Albert and Lucille arrived they were greeted by a host of friends wishing them much happiness. After greeting and gathering all the well wishes, which seemed forever, the couple entered their dwelling to finally be alone and get started on married life. The group seemed to be leaving, but as soon as the lights went off, the party on the outside started in full swing. All of their friends surrounded the house making noises by hitting spoons against pots and pan. Then they broke out in song. The merry making went on for a couple of hours. The crowd dispersed, leaving behind a cooked turkey on the front porch. The couple discovered it the next day strewn around the front yard where the neighborhood cats and dogs had a party of their own. All in all the Newly Weds had a night to remember.