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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mother Knows Best

Henry started North High School in 1930 and I started there in 1932.  We didn’t know each other then but, he told me later that he and his friend used to watch me out of an upstairs window in North High School when I was outside.  They bet each other on who would have the first date with me!  Not knowing anything about this bet, I learned later that Henry enlisted some outside help and got Catherine to invite both of us to a Valentine Party at her house..

That night, Henry walked me home from the party, because we didn’t have a car, and the street cars had stopped running.  We didn’t stay very late because he had to get up early and deliver newspapers.  I got a huge blister on my heel from my shoes, but I enjoyed the walk. That was in 1933, and we started to go together off and on.  I had another friend who was a very nice young man whom I dated and he took me to the Senior Prom (much to Henry’s chagrin and dismay!)  We were not allowed to take anyone who was not a North Student (Henry had graduated), so I told Henry that I was going with Jack and he was quite upset. We smoothed things out afterward and then we started going steady. 
When we first started going together, we loved to walk around the lake and sit on the ground and just talk.  One night Henry was very upset and told me that he thought we shouldn’t go together any more.  I was really shocked and hurt and he finally said he didn’t have enough money to do the things for me that he wanted to do.  He wanted me to be free to do what I wanted with others.  I couldn’t convince him that money didn’t matter to me so we went home and I cried all night.  I finally went to see Henry’s mom - she was so sweet and we had a good talk.  She told me to be patient, pray about it, and everything would work out.
Then a friend of Henry’s was killed, and this was another difficult time for both of us.  Our friends had run off and were married - Henry thought we should do the same, but I refused, and once again he was upset and we had to work things out together.  One day, Henry called and said he was leaving for California that night with a buddy…I begged him to wait until I could get off work so we could talk about it.  He waited, we talked…but he still left and went to California.  This was in the fall of 1937 - we had gone together for about four years. 

At Christmas time, Henry sent a diamond ring home to his dad to give to me so we could be engaged.  He came home from California in March and wanted to be married on April 10 (my birthday) and go back to California.  I didn’t want to go so soon or so far away and I told him so.  He kept urging me, but I just couldn’t do it and so after getting three extensions on his leave from Sears in California, he told them he was going to stay in Omaha and get a job. 

He told the bank manager where he was hired that he wanted to get married and the manager told him to wait until he had proven himself at work.  Finally he got a raise to $90.00/month and we decided to be married in August 27, 1938.  My great grandmother bought my wedding gown ($30); my wedding cake was not real because we couldn’t afford one-- it was a window display from the bakery where my mother worked.  We served sheet cakes and no one even knew!  The table was beautifully decorated…that is, until the punch bowl broke!    We also learned that my new brother-in-law was going to steal Henry right after the ceremony, so we borrowed a friend’s father’s police hand cuffs.  We put these on us right after the ceremony so they couldn’t get us apart!
Esther and Henry had always dreamed about the empty lot across from North High School, and much to their surprise, Esther’s mother gave them the lot as a gift on which to build Their new home.  They lived in this home for 24 years, with their family of four children.  Their first two children were adopted as the doctor reluctantly informed the young couple that they would not be able to have their own children.  However, after seven years of marriage, they welcomed a third child, their first-born daughter; and then three years later, their first-born son, completing their family of six.  To this union, there would also be six “adopted” exchange student children throughout the years - from Turkey, Japan, China, France and the Ukraine. Esther and Henry were married for 56 years, renewing their wedding vows on their 50th wedding anniversary. Henry passed away at age 77 in 1994, and Esther still lives in Omaha, Nebraska, now 93 years old. 
Their love of travel took them to all continents and on numerous cruises…sharing their love of family and friends with new friends far and wide…Esther and Henry never knew a stranger!

From very meager beginnings to a life together rich with memories, love, and especially the gift of giving to others, they truly learned the meaning of “to whom much is given, much is expected.”  They both volunteered for years with the American Red Cross, donating gallons of blood.  Their commitment to their church was uppermost in all they did, and they realized early in their relationship the power of communication and of prayer….

Hmmm, maybe Mother does know best after all!  Henry’s Mother certainly did!