He was the only "jarhead" among his group of buddies who owned a car. And what a car it was!"How many Marines can fit into a volkswagon?" isn't anything compared to "How many Marines can fit into a 52 Hudson?" He drove the wheels off that old boat of a car, jam-packed full of lusty, thirsty, lookin'-for-women Marines. Tijuana every weekend, cruising the hiways and biways of San Diego and National City, a short drive from Camp Pendleton. He didn't always get gas money from his buddies. He didn't always pay much attention to who was with him for a weekend of looking for a good time. Eventually the group thinned out to 4 or 5 best buddies all looking for a "really nice girl".
He found his "really nice girl" in a small, orange-grove studded town, way off the beaten path and 100 miles from Camp Pendleton. Puente ... that was the name of the town. It means "bridge." Once he stepped onto that "bridge" there was no looking back.
Her father, 6 ft.2, a giant of a man at 220 pounds, towered over the Marine, massive arms folded across his chest, or sometimes cracking his knuckles menacingly. Private conversations between the Marine and the Dad took place out of hearing range. "Let's go to the store for some beer," the Dad would suggest. They piled into the Hudson and the conversation included, "What are your intentions?" ...... "You're 5 years older than her." And when marriage was nervously mentioned as the Marine's intention, the Dad gruffly asked, "How are you going to support her?" The clincher, "Is she pregnant?"
The 52 Hudson couldn't take it any more. After a few months of making 200 mile round-trip visits to Puente it just stopped running. That didn't stop him. He hitchhiked, and walked many miles between rides to get to his really nice girl .... by now his soon to be young wife.
The Mom, pregnant with her eighth child, sat in front of an antique treadle sewing machine - often late into the night as the seven children were sleeping -and fashioned her daughter's net over satin wedding gown.
My father walked me down the aisle, his large hands holding mine tightly, and stepped back as Eldon took my hand. So young .... I was just 16. What did I know .... what did we know about this bridge that would take us from young lovers to promises of "love, honor, and respect each other as long as we both shall live... til death do us part." A promise that we had no way of knowing would stretch out for 53 years.
The 52 Hudson had been left behind, as the memory of it faded and was replaced by a shiney blue and white new-to-us 58 Chevy, our honeymoon car delivering us safe and sound to the other side of the bridge.
Thanks Dean for sending the picture tof the snazzier-looking-than-ours-'52 Hudson. I have a photo of our actual 52 Hudson in one of my many photo storage shoeboxes - hmmm, now which shoebox is it in? I'll try to find it and scan it to my blog. Dad and I are standing next to it. Arms around each other and holding hands. I'm wearing a black with velvet polka dot dress that my Dad, Poppa, bought for me ....mmm, I really do have to find that photo. Now .... which box should I start looking in first?