First Marriage - Sandy and I
I planted Christmas trees for a short time at Berry's Tree farm until the rain came, then helped Joe Hopfer load the Goodwill Truck for about a month. That and my boxboy career gave me a good eye for spatial relationships.
Sandy's parents dropped us off at the Salem Armory one time for a Paul Revere and the Raiders concert. I brought my binoculars and was impressed by the sweat on Mark Lindsey's face. I ever afterward respected rock stars for their work, whether I liked their music or not. Besides that group, Sandy also like the Dark Shadows soap opera on TV.
After I got called to work as a custodian for K-Mart, Sandy and I were married in the Salvation Army chapel in Salem, OR. It was an ecumenical wedding, performed jointly by the Corps Officer of the chapel and one of the Catholic priests of her church. I had gotten a studio apartment in town just a block or two from the chapel. We walked directy from the wedding to our honeymoon.
The doctor had recommended we have wine for our wedding night to take away nervousness, and since that was allowable under a doctor's advice, I bought a bottle for that purpose. It was my first alcoholic beverage. I thought to taste it before offering it to my new wife and it tasted terrible! I poured it down the sink. It turned out to be unnecessary. Our love for each other was sufficient.
Sandy was more than four years younger than I. She had two brothers, "Skip" and Brian. We went to a reunion at a park in Amity, Oregon and I met more of her family.
Another time, we went to a Spiritual retreat with other members of the Salvation Army Corps. It was at Trestle Glen, near Boring, Oregon, I think.
One thing I will always miss, I think, is Salem's historic City Hall, built in the 1890's. It was torn down in September of 1972.
She began taking the same course of study that I had three years earlier, to prepare to become a member of the Salvation Army as I had.
It was a short but happy marriage. She was truly the wife of my youth (see Proverbs 5:18), though I married at a later age than most of my forebears. I remember it snowed early that year, and it may be why we decided to open our Christmas presents to each other early - We were going to buy replacement presents for under the tree (but we never did).
I came home one morning after we had been married for six months. I stopped at the house where she regularly sat for a neighbor's child, but she wasn't there, and the neighbor had not been able to reach her by phone. I rode my bike home (already worried as she was never late), unlocked the back door, and went inside. The apartment was filled with a thin sweet-smelling smoke. I went through the apartment, checking the oven and the thermostat, wondering about the smoke, and found her lying on the floor on the far side of the bed, her arm resting against the baseboard heater, apparently the cause of the smoke. I was so upset, I didn't know how to dial the police. I phoned the neighbor and told her I thought my wife was dead and couldn't think how to phone the police. She did it for me. A friend of the family was a police dispatcher and she told my parents. I don't remember who called her parents. I was questioned by the police, and given a lie detector test, as it was a suspicious death; she was so young, and apparently healthy. But the death certificate gave the cause as: Idiopathic epilepsy with sudden fatal collapse.
A song that has always since reminded me of her is Honey, partly because I called her "Honey," but mostly because it describes my feelings for her: she was young at heart, we had enjoyed that early snowfall before her death, and she left me suddenly alone.