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First Meeting And Military Life

It was during one of my times out with my girlfriends, in the balcony at the Plymouth Theater (movie theater), that a bunch of boys came and sat in the row behind us (April 26, l953), that I met Joe. At the time he was called Norman - his parents named him Joseph Norman Girouard, as was the custom in Canada, where the parents were born. Back then, the boys always went by their second name. His sister was named Mary Patricia Rose, and always went by the name of Patricia. He was the oldest in the family - his only sister was next, then Thomas. John and James came many years after the first three; they were quite young when I met Joe.

Back at the theater - I had my feet up on the rail that went around the balcony, and it was during intermission, the lights were on and I guess my legs looked real shiny and attracted Joe's attention. He began throwing popcorn at me, to get my attention. It wasn't working - so, he grabbed a lock of my hair (in the back), and hacked it off with his jack knife. That got my attention... I remember the date, because it turned out to be Joe's Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary, too. Eventually he got my phone number - it was 327 R. All this time, I was too scared or shy or both, to look at him - and never did see what he looked like.

About a week later, our phone number was changed to 327 RK, and I figured that he would never be able to reach me. But, I guess he did and we set up a date to meet again; my Mom offered to walk with me down the hill to meet him, and ended up nearly dragging me down the street, because I wanted to change my mind about the date so many times. This was my first date. He didn't have a car or a drivers license, so we had to walk everywhere.

That was just the beginning of a long courtship. Joe was l7, and I was 15 1/2 years old; neither of us was ready for anything else. We had a lot in common - love of the outdoors, fishing, skating, movies, bowling - but, because of not much money and no car, we were limited as to what we could do.

I went from an honor student, down to just below that and never did make it back up. I had already switched to Commercial course and did very well in it - excelled in bookkeeping, typing. My history teacher got me really interested in U.S. History and I went from an F up to an A in one term. There was an award given in the auditorium for the one who improved the most in history - my neighbor Gerry Tessier got the award, but I know it was intended for me - my history teacher was very old, retired that year (Mrs. Meekham), and she must have alphabetically, got the two names mixed up (Taylor - Tessier). Gerry Tessier never did anything in school and quit when she turned 16.

Joe wanted to make something of his life and he had to get out of school at 16, to help support his Dad's family - he asked if his parents would sign for him to go into military, so he could get a trade. He had always had an electronic aptitude and got good training in the Air Force. (Joe's official military number was: AF 11275733).

We were going steady, had been for a couple of years. When Joe was in basic training in New York state, his sister and I had the chance to visit him and also Patty's boyfriend (Pete Collette), with her boyfriend's father. It was my first time away from home for a couple of days. It was during this visit that Joe proposed marriage to me, in the middle of a large marching field on the base, under a moonlit sky. I said, "Yes", after giving it some thought for a minute or so. It was one of the first major decisions I had ever made, and I knew it required a lifetime commitment.

Joe and I had talked about how our life would be, after we married. One thing that we both agreed on was that I would stay home and raise our children. My Mom always worked, because she didn't get any support from my Dad (he wouldn't pay support, if he couldn't see my sister and me - and, she didn't want to share us with him, so kept us apart). It was decided that I would be the kind of wife and mother that my own Mom couldn't be. Growing up, like that, I could see the need for a full-time wife and mother. It was a real priority, in our lives.

Some of the boys at school were beginning to get interested in me and Joe decided he had better get me an engagement ring to stop their advances. (It was white gold, with a solitaire diamond.) He bought the ring when he was stationed at Keesler, AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. He gave it to me when he came home for a furlough. I was the first one in High School to get an engagement ring. One of my girlfriends got one a few months later. (Nancy Wood and Ronnie Pearle)

When I was in Junior High School, my path had crossed with Joe's just once. I was in grade 7 and he was in grade 9 - he was one of the older kids, and so tall and thin for his age. A boy had bothered him for years, trying to pick a fight. Joe wasn't a fighter, but this boy pushed him too hard and finally he pushed back. I remember hearing a fight going on, on the boys side of the cafeteria, and we all ran over to watch. I didn't know Joe then, but in later years we met and began to compare notes as to what we had done in the earlier years: we found out that he was, indeed, the young man who got in that fight. Also, we had both gone roller skating the same night, for a couple of years and we never met each other there.

I wasn't very athletic in school, didn't like sports. It probably all began when I was in grade school and had to play baseball with some boys. There was a really cute boy (he looked like Roy Rogers, a movie cowboy with his horse Trigger), and we were on opposite teams. I was catching the ball and he was sliding into base - we crashed into each other - bumping heads. We were both nearly knocked out. That ended the romance...

Because I didn't like sports, I was usually the last one picked, when teams were formed. One time, there was a substitute gym teacher and she picked me and another uncoordinated person - we were to be team captains, and had to pick our teams. This was excellent for me - I picked all the kids who weren't liked because they didn't excel in sports, and the last one I picked was the most popular girl who was a regular athlete. I think the girl got the message - and a taste of what its like to be unpopular - probably for the first and last time in her life, but gave my self-esteem one of the rare boosts I was privileged to have.

Our gym (physical education) class was studying field hockey; we got out the new equipment, one of which was shin-guards - they were cumbersome and nobody wanted to wear them - so we didn't. I was the first and last casualty. I had to be driven to my doctor (Dr. Cummings - who later specialized in pediatrics and took care of our children). I had two stitches in my right shin.

Our Year Book came out and because my initials were L.T., the saying for me was - Lonesome Type. (I guess because Joe was in the military and I didn't go out much). Also, my class prophecy was: Lorraine Taylor can be seen strolling down Main Street pushing a baby carriage. (Well, it sure happened, many times over...)

I did very well in bookkeeping and office practice. My bookkeeping teacher got a job lined up for me, when I graduated. They asked when I wanted to start and I said the Monday after school ended. They were really surprised because a lot of the kids went and celebrated for graduating from High School - a lot of them went to New York City. I worked at Montuori Oil Co., in Fitchburg, Massachusetts - in the one girl office. The girl who was training me, was to be married. I hadn't been wearing my engagement ring, because I had lost weight while Joe was overseas at Baffin Island, and the ring was too loose; I was afraid I would lose it. I mentioned that I was engaged. This was after I had worked a couple of weeks. They weren't too happy with me after that. I didn't plan on getting married until Joe got out of the service and he had about 2 1/2 years left.

When I began to work, Mom didn't ask for any rent - she said I should get some things for my "hope chest"; toward when we married. The first thing I bought was a very large, red, Catholic Bible (Duay Version). It had pictures of all the cardinals (post higher than regional bishop), with their red outfits - it also had a family tree that could be filled in. Then I bought a set of stainless steel pots and pans, they threw in a set of Melmac dishes, for free. I tried reading the Bible, starting with the first book, Genesis. There were so many "begats" that I lost interest.

I would walk down the hill (about 1 1/2 miles), to St. Leo's Church, to light candles and pray for Joe, while he was overseas. One night I was still there praying, about the time they usually locked up the church. Father Dowd had come to lock-up, and he knew our situation (Joe overseas and all) - so, he asked me to lock the door when I left; this really impressed me.

Joe was due to come home from overseas in July, but didn't get back until August. He had been 1,500 miles away when overseas and now they were sending him to Tacoma, Washington; clear across the country and 3,000 miles from home. We decided to get married, we had been going together for 3 1/2 years. This was no easy matter, being Catholic and 3 banns had to be posted in the church, before the wedding - showing our intentions, in case anyone knew reason why we shouldn't marry. We talked with a priest and he asked if we wanted to post the banns and go to Washington state, and be married out there. Well, we didn't want to go away from home not married, and didn't want to have a wedding with nobody we knew around us. I think he was testing us to see how level-headed we were. So, he posted the banns one Sunday, and waived the other 2 banns for $25. The priest we wanted to marry us (my favorite through the years, Father Dowd), was on vacation and they knew I wanted him to do the ceremony - so, there he was on our day - much to our surprise, bless his heart!

My Mom had a wedding shower for me at the Little Red Schoolhouse, up Pleasant Street a little way from my Mayfield Court home. A lot of family and friends came; it was a "greenback" shower because we didn't know what we would need once we arrived in Tacoma, and we needed the money.

I didn't have the money to get a regular wedding gown and I knew my Mom didn't, either - so my sister Irene and I went "Sale" shopping. I found a very nice suit, but it was navy blue - because the price was right, I got it. I had a winter white hat, shoes, gloves, pearl earrings and necklace. (Near Boston, where we came from, they were very style conscious and you didn't wear regular white after September 1 - and not again until after the 30th of May - so all accessories were winter white, which is just a drop of cream-color in the white). My Mom tried to talk me into wearing the white dress I had worn for high school graduation, but I didn't think it should be worn for two different occasions. She never said that brides should wear white, or what was thought, if you didn't. I was too young and too naive to give it a thought, either - so, that is what I wore. Years later, it dawned on me the insinuations if you didn't wear white. (But then, a lot of people wear white, who really shouldn't.)

We had a small wedding in St. Leo's Church - where I went all the time. Joe went to St. Cecelia's Church, across town, close to where he lived). Father Dowd married us; they sang, "Ava Maria" (Schubert variation), there was a small reception at my Mom's house. My sister was maid-of-honor and Joe's friend (and cousin), Ronald Donelle was best man. I walked down the aisle with Joe, as there was nobody to give me away; I wasn't in touch with my Dad (yet), and I didn't want Horace.

Joe just had a few more days before he had to get to the Air Base in Washington state, so we had a short honeymoon. At this time I had my drivers license and Joe still didn't have his - so, I drove my stepfather's car on our honeymoon. We rented a tiny log cabin a few miles from home. Even then we were drawn to the woods and to log cabins (little did we know how important they would both be to us, in later years.) We didn't know everybody could hear us outside; some people were walking past the cabin and started laughing and said how we were honeymooners...we didn't much care.

We didn't go out much, ate junk food, drank pop and I got sick in the middle of the night - started screaming - Joe thought he had married a crazy woman, I'm sure...but we lived through it. I guess I had a nightmare. We took a lot of pictures, outside and inside the cabin; you smile a lot on your honeymoon. We saved them for many years; finally destroyed them when we thought our children might see them, and think their parents were human... We had also destroyed the letters we wrote back and forth to each other, when Joe was overseas - for the same reason.

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Pen Name: Aimee Love



Joe while overseas in Baffin Island.