The Superior Express -

Editor's Notebook


February 6, 2020

With Valentine’s Day nearly here, next week’s issue of this newspaper should have one or more features related to this day.

When I was a youngster attending Pleasant Valley School, I looked forward to exchanging valentines with my classmates and the party held that afternoon. While the pupils were encouraged to share valentines with everyone, there were always special girls I particularly wanted valentines from.

Thus far this year, we have struck out when it comes to special feature story ideas for the Valentine issue. Surely, we haven’t exhausted the supply. New stories should be made every year.

As I look back at my family, my parents, grandparents and even this editor and his wife have suitable romance stories. Some of those stories I’ve shared here before and some I don’t know enough about to make a good story. I should have asked more questions when the subjects were alive.

I know how my father’s parents met but have no clue as to how my mother’s parents met.

Grandfather Wrench was raised near Asherville, Kansas and Grandmother Wrench near Ayr, Nebraska. I never thought to ask how they met or about their courtship.

I know more about my father’s parents and their brief courtship, though today I’d like to know even more.

Grandmother was raised in Hubbell and Grandfather in Hardy. They met in Fairbury. At the time Grandfather was working as a brakeman for the Rock Island Railroad. He observed a beautiful red-haired girl standing on the station’s platform waiting for the train to Ruskin. I suspect he was supposed to be that train’s brakeman but found time for courting on the side.

On Christmas Eve of 1903, they went to the Jefferson County courthouse at Fairbury and were married. Today I wonder how many days or hours they may have known each other before making the commitment that lasted more than 55 years. I suspect it wasn’t very long. Grandmother was only 17 at the time which was a problem because Nebraska law required brides to be 18 before they could be married without their parents’ permission. I suspect their daughter left home a single woman going to visit her married sister in Ruskin and returned a married woman. The marriage took place on Christmas Eve, 1903.

Grandmother didn’t want to lie about her age so she devised a plan to fool the judge and soothe her conscious about lying. Before going into the judge’s office, she wrote the number 18 on a slip of paper and placed it in her shoe. That way when the judge asked “Ida, are you over 18?” she could truthfully answer “Yes” for she was standing over the number 18.

My parents had a long courtship and had purchased several pieces of new furniture including a dining room set, bedroom set, living room couch and chair and had begun construction of what was to become their home. My mother did not want to start married life with lots of debt and so lived with her parents, worked for three years in the Farmers Union Creamery office and used the money earned to buy things for the home she planned to establish.

They planned a small wedding with only family members present but there was a problem when the minister forgot he had scheduled a wedding and agreed to officiated at a funeral at the same time.

So the wedding time was advanced. My parents were able to adjust their schedules and attended the earlier session but their fathers were not.

When it was my turn to be married, Rita and I planned a small wedding at her parents’s farm. Problem was the day that appeared to work the best fell on a day her family would normally be harvesting wheat. She said that wouldn’t be a problem as the harvest crew always broke for an afternoon lunch. She said, “I’ll stop the combine, we will all gather around and be married in the wheat field.”

That plan was changed when the wheat crop was a failure. Instead, we were married in her parents’ living room.

For the occasion, my father rented a video camera (home video was new at the time). He set it up and when the wedding started the on-off switch was pushed. Problem was, the camera had mistakenly been turned on and filmed several minutes of piano music before being turned off as the wedding started.

I had worked at the newspaper office that morning and a late customer delayed my leaving Superior. That upset my mother. However, I assured her the wedding would not start until I arrived.

‘The wedding was to be surprise and I had not shared wedding plans with co-workers at the newspaper. However they had figured out something was going on when one returned on the weekend and found a press had been used and all evidence of what was printed was missing.

He wasn’t surprised to see I had used the press, but since clean-up is not part of my nature, he concluded whatever I had printed was top secrete and was probably related to the editor’s wedding. How right he was. Before I got back to work on Monday, the entire newspaper crew knew about the boss’s wedding.

Now you’ve heard my wedding stories. I’d like to hear yours.


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