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The Wedding, The WOWs, The Vows, And The Amazing B-17 Crew Reunion

The gaps in my story calling for an epilogue registered as “gasps” in my ears. Blame it on the black sheep who gambled away the family firm, faked a suicide attempt and went to prison. I helped my parents with their move to Zurich. By holiday time we were settled in and I, acutely homesick for America, listened for hours to Mahalia Jackson Christmas songs. In January I got a job in the personnel office of a department store, telling them in advance that I would leave in June to get married in LA. It paid for my ticket. My parents were at peace and happy for me, but kissed me tearfully good-bye at the airport. At LAX on June 26, 1959, Fred excitedly pinned a corsage on me, and took my cry of pain in stride when it stabbed me – gasp – in the chest.

He had rented a furnished apartment and arranged for the officiating pastor to meet with us. We shopped for things to cook in and eat off, playing cards and cleaning stuff, the works… On July 3 we paid $2.00 for our marriage license. That day, as a first, I drove Fred’s pride and joy, his snazzy new Studebaker Silver Hawk. The heat on July 11 was punishing, but the groom happily donned his black suit meant for a Detroit winter. I wore my lacy ninety-dollar dress bought at the May Co. Fred’s Italian best man was his fellow mechanic at Henley Typewriter. Ruth was the classy maid of honor and my three adorable flower girls wore dainty hats. Dr. Ernest proudly walked me down the aisle and joined his wife in hosting a wonderful luncheon reception in their home.

The WOWs kicked in exactly as befits “happily ever after” stories: honeymoon, kids, pets, church friends, homes, vacations in Europe, Fred’s own 50-years-plus office machine business. Alzheimer’s Disease ended it and ushered in realistically the vows spoken at the altar, “In sickness and in health, for better and for worse.” Several years into being the “vow-keeper” (as I occasionally sign off in emails to our offspring), with God’s gracious help we take one day at a time, some being better, and some worse… My glad abiding WOW in His honor translates into Worship, Obey, Walk the talk.

In 1979 we met Marbury Councell and his parents in Silver Spring, MD. That was fun, but left room for more. In 1982, he and two crew members of the Dinah Mite, along with their wives, came to Europe and met with me in Diepoldsau. A reporter joined us in gloomy weather for a somber walk to the crash site. Instigated by my Dad and me also, the town fathers paid for their lodging and a memorable dinner reception at the hotel. The next morning, we drove to an airfield near Lake Constance, where the chef (also hotel owner) had the guys take turns flying with him in his private plane. They replicated the route of the B-17 as it had veered into the Rhine Valley and limped to its crash site. The memory still makes me choke up. So, just for fun, I am concluding this saga with a conversation son Peter had with Marbury during a visit to LA. “I asked how he was selected as ball-turret gunner, since he was rather tall and the ball-turret was a very cramped space. He said that while he was working KP duty on a rainy evening, a soldier in a rain coat requested ‘more peas.’ He slapped another spoonful on the serving tray, but the soldier requested more, and Marbury picked up the serving container and poured a mountain of peas on the guy’s tray. The soldier sat down at a table in clear view of his server, took off his rain coat to reveal that he was an officer (I forget the rank) and proceeded to eat every one of those peas – the whole time glowering at him. Soon after (I think the next day), Marbury was assigned as a ball-turret gunner.”


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