I am in awe of my in-laws, Sonny and Verlon. I followed behind them the other day; they were holding hands. They began holding hands sixty-four years ago and never stopped. We all say ‘’…till Death do us part…” when we’re standing at the altar. Some folks find a way to fulfill that pledge no matter what.
Verlon once told me, “I went from my father’s house to my husband’s bed.” She hasn’t left since.
He was twenty-two-years old, just out of the Navy, going to school and picking up odd jobs during financially troubled times. One of those jobs was at a gas station. A young lady had dropped by more often than was necessary and fell for Sonny, who by all descriptions looked a lot like Elvis. She was more smitten than he.
One day she decided to bring along a fifteen-year-old girlfriend named Verlon, so her friend could see her dream-boat. Sonny says he looked out the window, saw Verlon, and said aloud, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.” The three had a conversation and Sonny decided hers was a smile he’d love to see every day for the rest of his life, and her warm, throaty laugh didn’t hurt anything either.
Somehow he wheedled Verlon’s phone number from her brother, and asked her out for a date. Of course, her father said, “&^$#%^^!!” or words to that effect. His daughter, so young, was not allowed to be alone in male company. But, Sonny persisted and cycled over to Verlon’s house, and there also achieved a diplomatic feat, unequaled before or since: the father loaned Sonny his car for the evening! Arriving home before curfew, the porch light went on – recall that was in the days before motion-activated lights – and the two said good-night.
Verlon says her father carefully scrutinized Sonny’s collar for lipstick; finding none, the courtship began.
But one part of their story troubled me: as always courtship involves politeness, and politeness involves holding our urge for huggin’ and smoochin’ in check. Now Sonny had borrowed that car for several dates, had no trouble with its operation, but one night, finding themselves on a desolate country road, Sonny was unable to start the car. Hmmm. Sounds like the front end of a ‘stretcher’ to me.
“Honest, we were late ‘cuz I couldn’t get the blame car started” This being the same car he’d driving without incidence several times before. “I had to poosh that car a half-mile to find a hill to pop the clutch and jump-start that old thing.” [Hey, Sonny, I’m not Verlon’s Daddy! I believe every word you say… Oh yeah.] Sonny concluded to me, “I guess I couldn’t get it started ‘cuz I was too excited.” I changed subjects.
If Sonny didn’t get checked for lipstick that night, it might just be a good thing.
As I said, financially, times were worrisome. [Not long before this time, Sonny had plowed fields for ten cents an hour.] But, he knew folks who raised hogs, thus was able to add tenderloin to whatever more traditional gifts a beau presents his lady. After her family was asleep, Sonny and Verlon would cook the steaks before Sonny pushed off to work the night shift.
So, in 1950, the two got married, and from that day to this, the only hands they held?
One story Sonny told me, off the romance subject, yet suggesting his gift for devilment. He and Verlon had an acquaintance who wouldn’t – not under any circumstances – drink moonshine. He wasn’t a tee-totaller; bourbon was fine, just no ‘shine’; point of character.
Sonny and Verlon invited the man and his wife over for cards. Sonny got a bottle of moonshine. [“I just happened to have a jar lying around.”] He rounded up some food coloring to make it appear to be whiskey, and poured multiple libations. “Smoothest bourbon I’ve ever drank!” said the man. Sonny nodded appreciatively.
Later, having – with Sonny’s help – ‘gotten on their shine,’ the man and his wife awoke, having both passed out in Sonny’s bathtub. He said, “Wow! That bourbon really packs a punch!” Sonny nodded appreciatively.
Word is, according to Sonny [who was not under oath at the time] the man, unexpectedly joined the ministry. I doubt there’s the slightest connection.
Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed; Campfire Tales; Sabonics