The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Love Story

While going through Grandma's things, I found two pages she had written in 1995 about her life with Grandpa. Some of it I knew, something I had never heard before. And while I tend to romanticize things, I feel it is no exaggeration to say that there have rarely been two people so suited for each other or so happy together.

So this is the story of Ray and Liz, from their meeting at boarding school in India, to their wedding in Virginia, to their life in Ohio. her own words.

I was putting some books into my locker. I was a ninthie. It was the first week of July. Any of you who have attended Woodstock, know exactly the place I was standing. Right outside the side door of Parker Hall in the row of lockers toward the lower school. A quiet voice penetrated the conversation I was having with my locker neighbor, "Lizzy, would you go to the Senior Play with me?"

I have to give you a little more background. Maybe remind you of the way it was. If anyone went out in public with anyone of the opposite sex, you were going steady! Maybe not Elizabeth Post etiquette, but that was the way it was at Woodstock in 1941. It was just after the ten-day holidays. I had been going steady with Johnny for about a year...our first date was in mumps ward, but that is another story. Remember how there were trips you could take during the ten-days...Hardwar or Kashmir or some other tempting venue. This particular year the trip had been to Kashmir, if I remember correctly, I was not going; Johnny was. So was "Soup," one of my best friends. What more natural then to say to "Soup" that she should "take care of Johnny" for me on the trip. Well she did! When they came back they were an item. So I was heartbroken. I'd been dumped. My life was coming to an end. How could I ever go on? All of you have been teenagers and probably known the feelings I had.

So what was this voice asking me to go to the play? I turned around and it was Raymond. A classmate since 5th standard. Gosh, I thought, he looks pretty good. Why hadn't I noticed? I remember when we were in Miss Whitaker's class and he say behind me. I hated him then. Specially after he dipped my pigtail in an inkwell and made long indelible blue marks on one of my favorite dresses. Now what possessed him? All these thoughts went through my mind in a flash. But, I thought, I had to say something. He looked pretty good. Maybe I could go out with him a couple of times and dump him! Wouldn't that cure what ailed me? So I said, "Sure, why not? I'll meet you here after school on Friday" or whatever day the Senior Play was. It was Shakespeare or something drippy, but it would be better than nothing. Little did I know that at that moment I was sealing my fate, so to speak.

We went to the play, we walked home from C.E., we just "happened" to meet just below the Hindustani church and walked to school together most days. Raymond had really changed. He was a pretty neat guy. A perfect gentleman, darn it all!

So we went steady all the rest of that year, wrote to each other over the holidays, and came back for our senior year together. Still going steady and he was still a gentleman. I mounted a campaign that would have rivaled the campaign that Hanibal used to get elephants through the Alps! Would he never hold my hand, even? It took all the way to the beginning of the monsoons, when one day IT HAPPENED! Mother and dad were up, I was a dayskie, and he was walking me home to South Hill in a gentle rain. I was holding the umbrella that we were sharing, and he told me he would carry it and he put his hand over mine. Ecstasy! Awkwardly he moved the umbrella to the other hand and kept ahold of my hand. Isn't it strange, I can't remember what we had for lunch today, but I remember that day perfectly, vividly.

Things went well. We were together all 10th Standard. Remember elections in Student Government? All boys the first half of the year so we got together and elected the first and maybe only, Petticoat Parliament at Woodstock. Ray had been Secretary of the Interior (we were that pretentious) first and then I ran for the same position second half. Party platform said something about cooperation between the administrations. We graduated in early December of 1942. I like to say that I graduated first in my class! And I did. We marched in to Parker Hall, lined up by twos, with the shortest in the front of the line. I think actually Cecil and I both graduated first in our class! We were, I believe a unique class in that four couples from our class, the class of '42 married and two others married other Woodstock folks. Alleys, Howards, Whitcombe and Brushes are the four and Fosters and Lewises are the other two.

We came to the states...I to college in Kansas, in their degree Nursing program. Ray was called to serve in the Air Force and after WWII ended he enrolled in the School of Engineering at the University of Virginia. In those days it was safe to hitch-hike and he visited Kansas as often as he could. We were enjoying such a visit in June of 1944, when one evening, sitting on the roof to try and escape the heat, he proposed and I said YES so we became engaged. We told my parents, they didn't seem surprised as I remember. After all he had been under-foot quite a while. It hardly came a surprise to anyone...'cept maybe Raymond.

I graduated from KU with a BSc in Nursing on March 3rd 1949. Took off in a bus from Crossville, Tennessee where the Templins were. We went on by car from there and on Saturday morning, March 5th (after they had spread horse manure for fertilizer all over the lawns at UVA - but that is another story too. I am probably the only person who can be in a barnyard and hear wedding bells)...on March 5th we were married in the University Chapel by both our fathers.

We had a wonderful life. Starting in an apartment with no water in the kitchen. Through a weekend when we were so poor (we had just moved everything we owned in a panel truck to Toledo, Ohio; he had started work at Toledo Edion and had not been paid yet) and we lived whole weekend on 1 head of cabbage. Through the tragic death of our firstborn daughter. Through the joys and perils of raising three daughters. He changed jobs and worked for a smaller company, American Warming and Ventilating, as VP & chief engineer; with countless patents for improvements to machines and methods for air moving. He had seen me through coronary and heart bypass surgery. Then he hit a rough patch in March of 1990, at a check-up he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer) and told he probably had 2 months to live. Never did I hear a complaint from him at his lot. Just the same Ray. Just the same gentleman.

In the summer of 1994, we had just come home from last year's WOSA reunion in Washington State and a Templin family reunion in San Fransisco, when he started feeling rotten. Two weeks in the hospital, trying dialysis and a new chemotherapy, two very rough weeks for him, but he died peacefully Sunday morning August 28, last year.

Never has Woodstock graduated a finer person. Never has anyone been luckier than I am to have been with him as girlfriend and wife for 54 years.


About Me

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A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.


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