In June 1961, I received my discharge from the Marine Corps and moved to Sacramento, where my parents were then living.
The reason I chose to go to Sacramento was not that my parents were living there, but because of the super-hot girl, I had met there during my previous Christmas leave.
The first thing I did after arriving was to enroll at Sacramento State College for the fall semester to complete my engineering degree.
The next thing I needed to do was to find a job, and my father was able to help me. He was an executive at Aerojet General, and through his contacts there, he found me a job as an engineering aide at their liquid rocket test facility working on the second shift (3-11 PM).
I was not close to my parents, and my original intention was to find an apartment near the college. However, my parents had two empty bedrooms, and they asked me to move in with them. Going to college during the day and then working second shift afterward, I realized I would not be seeing much of them, so living with my parents for a while seemed like a reasonable request, and it would make it easy for me to save up some money.
Of course, like many freebies, there were strings attached to accepting my parents’ generosity, like agreeing to do the chores and the favors they asked of me, like mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, painting the fence, driving mom to her doctor visits, etc.
One of the favors they asked of me in November was that I go to a friend’s daughter’s 18th birthday party, which he was throwing for her at is his huge gated estate. I reluctantly agreed to go after they told me that the friend was a renowned ophthalmologist and one of the wealthiest individuals in Sacramento. My father said his clients were among the richest people in the world and included the Kennedy family and King Saud of Arabia. So, I thought if nothing else, it would be interesting to see the place.
When I asked about the daughter, they said she was cute and had a good personality, which I knew was “Parent Code.” “Cute,” meaning she would be unattractive and “Had a good personality,” meaning she would be significantly overweight.
Since I had just broken up with my girlfriend recently, I was ready to look for a viable replacement, and although I knew the daughter most likely would not be desirable, I thought there was a chance there would be some more appealing girls at the party.
I figured what the hell if nothing else, I would pop into the party for an hour or so, and if the pickings were slim, I would then leave having fulfilled my obligation to my parents.
I don’t remember what the daughter looked like, whether she was fat, ugly, or whatever other than she was certainly not rememberable. However, I did quickly notice a pretty petite blond that was there with a boy I recognized from my Microbiology class at Sacramento State. Since she was by far the most desirable girl at the party, I figured, what the hell, go for it.
It turned out I had no problem separating this attractive girl, whom I learned was Barbara, from her escort, as when I introduced myself to her, I discovered she was his kid sister, and they had been talked into coming to the party by a mutual friend. Not surprisingly, Barbara’s brother was more than happy to get rid of her to seek out his own companion.
Unfortunately, I was not the only male that had noticed Barbara, as two other young men also began to make a big play for her.
I don’t remember exactly what happened, but after a few dances together, I was able to extract Barbara from my two competitors and convince her to let me take her home. Maybe it was my good looks, my charming personality, or just being an ex-marine, but whatever we left the party reasonably early and went to a drive-in movie where we proceeded to make out for two hours before I drove Barbara home.
I believe the next morning, I told my mother that I had met the woman I was going to marry. Talk about love or lust at first sight!
Our first real date was to an exclusive French restaurant and afterward a movie in downtown Sacramento. The next date was to a fancy dinner theater in San Francisco. Afterward, we parked in Sausalito at a beautiful spot in the moonlit shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. While we were there making out, yes, I was still exercising unusual restraint, and being a gentleman, I told her I wanted to marry her, a proposition which, of course, she summarily rebuffed.
However, I was determined, and every date after that, which were many, and forget the gentleman stuff, I continued to express my desire to marry her. Finally, in April, with the help of support from her mother and her younger brother, she at last relented and said she would marry me. Of course, I learned later she and her girlfriends had been looking at available dates on the calendar for months.
That following August, fifty-seven years ago, we were married at the officers club at Mather Air Force base in Sacramento, where her father was stationed as a SAC B52 Pilot. Two kids and five grandchildren later, I think we both would agree that it has been a wonderful marriage, and amazingly in all those years, we have never had a major disagreement or fight.