It almost seems like day-before-yesterday, but in reality it was a very long time ago. The average cost of gasoline was $.33 a gallon, but periodically in the midst of a gasoline war, you could buy it for $.18. The self-service station across the street from Hardin-Simmons often had the lower price.
The Federal Hourly Minimum Wage was $1.60 an hour and the average cost of a new home was $14,950. The average monthly rent for a home was $130.00. Of course, for a college student, a garage apartment or small duplex could be rented for half that price. The only caveat was single students living away from their families were required to live in the dormitory.
I worked the 3:00 p.m-to-11:00 p.m. shift at the hospital. Consequently, at best there was only two days a week that I could eat dinner in the dinning hall. Rules are rules and there was no waving the need to purchase a meal ticket even though it mostly was unused. The year 1968 began as a stressful year. That wasn’t just true for me; it was also true for the nation.
To say that it was a tumultuous year is an understatement. Racial tension and unrest coupled with widespread opposition to the Vietnam War across college campuses was predictably the venue for the 6:00 p.m. evening news on a daily basis. In the midst of all that, the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in April and the subsequent assassination of Presidential hopeful, Robert F. Kennedy, two months later had the nation at wits’ end.
I guess you could say, “Some things never change”. It was also an election year and the line-up appeared to be slim pickings. The two primary parties were squared off against one another with incumbent candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey against former Vice President Richard Nixon. Add, Alabama Governor, George Wallace to the mix with his platform for keeping schools segregated and you had all the makings for the perfect storm.
In the midst of that kind of landscape, the General and I optimistically pledged our love to one another and were joined by family and friends for our wedding at Immanuel Baptist Church in Odessa. That was 48 years ago today.
I guess you could say the years have been good to us. As far as I can remember, divorce has never been a consideration. We signed on to “death do us part”. Murder on the other hand, probably was a passing thought on more than one occasion. I guess we should both be grateful “Thou Shalt Not Murder” was one of the “Big 10”. Otherwise, one of us might be out on parole by now. Of course, most people who know us would have come to the General’s defense and supported the notion that it was justifiable homicide if she did away with me.
How does one know when they are totally out of the woods? Monday night I went to the pantry to go through a box of nonprescription medications looking for a decongestant. In the process of getting the box off of the top shelf in the pantry, I inadvertently knocked a new bottle of “Cherry Balsamic Vinegar” from the second-to-top shelf. I didn’t actually see the bottle fall, but I heard the mini explosion when the unopened glass bottle hit the tile floor.
I momentarily stood there looking at the gigantic mess I’d just made in the floor. There were fragments of glass and splattered vinegar everywhere. The scent of vinegar was filling the pantry as well as my nostrils. I had the thought, “I can’t believe that just happened”.
The General came to my rescue by bringing me the kitchen trashcan and handing me a roll of paper towels. Her body language told me, this was my mess and I was mostly on my own. In the words of Larry the Cable Guy, I was confident that “I could get R done.”
I don’t always get it right, but I married way above my pay group. At the core of her being, the General is loving and kind. I probably should add, she is patient, forgiving, longsuffering and a constant source of encouragement. She’s also never grows weary in providing “gentle redirection” and an unsolicited opinion on almost anything including my driving. Where would I be without her? She is also an incredible mother and grandmother.
All My Best!