Drawing on Love: Stored Secrets Come to Light

When we met, Cliff’s very first words to me were “Nice to see you again.”

My quick quip, “Nice to see you again too.”

But I’m getting ahead of my story. Way ahead . . .

* * *

During the months of June and July, I published a series of posts about moving from our large family home to a smaller abode. An earlier post discussed this move from my husband’s point of view: His Turn, an Artist Discards, Donates, and Discovers. I mentioned then that I may reveal later some of Cliff’s discoveries, unearthed drawings from an armoire that have not seen the light of day for literally decades.

I’m showing the first one on this post.

But first, some background . . .

Through the ingenuity of my Pennsylvania neighbor next door, Paul Mumma, I met Cliff, his college roommate, as a blind date on December 18, 1965, a fact I recorded in an entry with many embellishments in my journal. My iPhone says the day of the week that year was a Saturday.

On what turned out to be a double date, Paul, his girlfriend Betty, Cliff and I drove down Anchor Road on the way to the education building of a small church which the four of us intended to decorate for Christmas. On a blackboard in one of the Sunday School rooms Cliff first revealed his artistic talent by drawing a Santa Claus, mostly for my benefit, I surmise. (Sorry, the Santa Claus has been erased.)

A few days later, he had me pose in the living room of my parents’ home for many minutes. He explained that he was drawing my portrait. I sat very still for a long, long time.

Cliff finally flipped the paper to expose the drawing. I was aghast when I saw what the clever artist had been playing with on paper for forty-five minutes: He had morphed my then-slender figure into a porky jungle animal with a cute blue bow.

Elephant drawing_7x7_72(1)

He laughed heartily when he saw my shocked reaction.

After the gasp, all ll I could manage was an incredulous giggle. “You got me,” I thought.


The next week was Christmas. Then I heard him tell me, “I think I am falling in like.”

Really? What’s that like, I wondered.

About a week later,  Cliff drew a proper picture of me.

 

The Drawing

cliffFirstDrawing

He drew a good likeness of the serious me and prophesied my future, I think, by exaggerating my pile of dark hair and miniaturizing my prayer cap.

He signed it, Love, Cliff.

Yes, Reader, I married him.

 

Reader, I married him.  A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.    ~  Jane Eyre, Ch. 38, C. Brontë

 

Our wedding was not quiet. And more than four people were present.


A Card

A few weeks ago when Cliff pulled out piles of papers and other drawings including the one above, a small bag fell out from one of the crevices in the same art armoire. The envelope was dusty but well-preserved after years in hiding. Inside he found an anniversary card he apparently had bought in his travels and had been intending to give me about 10-15 years ago, so he imagines. Time had preserved the lacy layers. But he added a fresh, new message.

AnniversaryCardCover

AnnivCardInside67

Dear Reader, have you ever found lost or long-buried mementoes of sentimental value?

Thank you for adding your discoveries here. 

By the way, our move became a reality yesterday, August 9, in case you are wondering when all this hoopla has culminated. Next week, prepared in advance: Summer on Anchor Road: Sights, Smells, & Sounds

Wedding on the Cheap

The year 1967 was historic: It was the year of the world’s first heart transplant. There were race riots in Detroit. Polaroid cameras were all the rage as was Twiggy. The average annual income was $ 7300.00 while a house cost about twice that much. Gas was a mere 33 cents a gallon.

It was also the year of our wedding. On the cheap. In August, not June. After moving from Lancaster, PA to Charlotte, NC, my teaching salary increased by only one hundred dollars to about $ 3500.00 stretched to pay for most of the wedding expenses. I was on a pay-as-you-go, no-credit-card system! Today’s Bridezillas would freak out at my teeny tiny budget for a church wedding. Ever the list-maker (call me OCD), I began my planning with a double-columned list: item + amount spent. The cake, flowers, napkins, photographer, and honoraria are missing here. Probably on another list! I was not very good at justifying my bank balance. I remember standing in front of a teller at Wachovia Bank unable to choke back tears at my overdrawn account just weeks before the wedding.

. WeddingNBcover              List-Expenses

January through May was consumed by pattern-buying, fabric-cutting and sewing a gown heavily influenced by Jackie Kennedy’s style. How is it that the fabric for the bridesmaids and the bride, including a train with appliques cost only $ 83.05 then?

BelkReceipt  WeddingPattern

My hair was still in a bun but without the prayer veiling. One day in June, about six weeks before the wedding, I got the courage to dramatically change my hair-do. Off I went to a beauty salon, recommended by my roommates, to experiment with a bob. The stylist began, oddly, by braiding my hair into one long braid, almost waist length. And then she CUT IT OFF! I will never forget the sensation of hair still attached to my head swinging free. Was it in shock? Dancing? I’ll never know, but I do know the agony of trying to get my hands and fingers to contort themselves in odd ways to comb, brush, tease my shorter locks into the new style.

HankofHair

                       Heaven only knows why I still have this hank of hair!

Half the guest list were Mennonite friends and family from Pennsylvania, and they came to North Caroline in droves. Frugal Daddy gladly footed the hefty bill for the full course rehearsal dinner. Families from Charlotte Christian School put up my immediate family. Grandma and Aunt Ruthie were thrilled to stay in the home of Billy Graham’s mother, who had also hosted a bridal shower for me. Except for the bridal party, the wedding itself was a curious blend of plain and fancy: plain-coated, bow-tied Daddy with fancy bride.

 Wedding Day_Marian+Father_8x10_150

You may ask, “Why didn’t the groom help more with the wedding expenses?” A teacher/preacher at the time, he spent the summer as a rigger at the Jacksonville Shipyards carrying heavy chains on his shoulders up and down ladders trying to pay for the honeymoon and all that followed. No metaphor intended here!

The summer months are traditionally wedding months, particularly June. Do you have a wedding memory to share? Your own? Someone else’s?

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A Hornet’s Nest: The Bishop and My Shoes

They were gathered in a circle when I walked in. Call it naivete or being preoccupied with my classes, I was totally unprepared for the conclave of bishops, school administrators and other assorted male authorities that greeted me on entering the conference room at Lancaster Mennonite School where I was part of the English faculty. Yes, I had walked into a hornet’s nest indeed:

Bishop: Hello, Sister Longenecker

S. L.  (weakly) Hello

Bishop: We have called this meeting with you to discuss some matters that relate to the standards of this school and your manner of dress.

What! . . . This is an ambush.

S. L. Oh . . .

Bishop: Yes, you are familiar with the contract you signed last year when you were hired for this position.

S. L. Well, yes . . . .

Bishop: In it you agreed to uphold the “Rules and Discipline” of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church.

Christian Doctrine_cover_150_med

S. L. Yes, I recall. . . .

Bishop: You remember also there is a statement about the wearing of the plain cape dress.

S. L.  No comment . . . listening intently

Bishop: We have noticed that you are embellishing your dress with a collar and fancy button, which seems entirely unnecessary and certainly not a good example to our students.

Marian_LMSchool

Bishop: Also, you have been wearing another dress made of red material as well.

S. L. Now completely aghast . . . I want to disappear. Well, I do have a dress like that but the fabric has very dark shades of red, not very bright at all.

Bishop: And your shoes — the rules state that “ . . . dark footwear is the best expression of modesty and nonconformity for all our sisters,” and we hope that you will comply.

S. L. Looking down at my shoes, I see a black, patent leather shoe with a tiny bow and kitten heels. Dear Lord, this is getting very bad—I’m not a nun, but even I know that black patent leather shoes don’t really reflect up!

The Principal: To me, they look like dancing shoes.

S. L. Dancing shoes–gulp!–I don’t know even one dance step! Dancing is forbidden. It says so in the rule book.

Somehow the meeting concludes with no doubt some meek promise of compliance from me.

Fade to black . . . .

My Life in Shoes

Marian_Shoe Drawing_5x4_300med          blackshoes

Shoe drawing, circa age 10         Bane of the Bishop  1962

brownshoes           redshoes

Break-out Shoes   1965               My style now – red and shiny

What emotional connections, positive or negative, do you have with a item of clothing in your past? Tell us your story.