Transitions and Traditions

As we get into the summer of 1960 we are slowly getting used to living together as a married couple. More complex than we imagined. Marge is getting more adept at cooking and we often go shopping together.

The summer of 1960 will be my first, and as it turned out, only 2 week tour of duty as a summer soldier. Crucible Steel, being cheap on this matter, did not make up the difference in my salary from my regular salary and meager military pay. I had to take the vacation time I had left for that year’s duty as a Guardsman.

We were stationed at Wisconsin Dells, in of all places, Wisconsin. We called it Fort Sinus due to the allergy problems it caused many of us. At any given time you could count on a lengthy lineup in front of the doctor’s office. Not that they really helped any.

The place was hot, humid, and full of allergens and I REALLY disliked the place along with a lot of other guys. I was extremely glad to get back to Syracuse and Marge. Of course, in my absence she did have the use of our car, but she wasn’t going to classes, and I don’t think had any local friends. So, when I got back we had a very active, and I think mutually enjoyable re-uniting.

Many little unexpected things turned up to adjust to. Words and pronunciation were one of these. I had grown up in a French Canadian area of NY and the language used very nasal vowels. For instance, I used to pronounce the word “egg” as if it were “Aig” with an accent on the A. Marge used to pounce on me when I did this and tell me forcefully that there is no A in the word egg. Of course, she was right, I didn’t want to sound like the proverbial country bumpkin so I learned to pronounce my vowels in standard English.

For her part, Marge had some verbal peculiarities as well. One was her use of the word “onion” which she pronounced as if it were “ungyun” and I would retaliate and she got to the point where she got it correct, as I did with egg. The point of this being that each of us brought ideas,feelings, ways of doing things, etc. that seemed natural to us without our being aware of this.

We spent our first Christmas at Smith Lane. We bought a flocked little Xmas tree about 3′ high and put it on our TV with a white cloth under it. We also bought some small ornaments to put on the small tree and it looked pretty decent.

When I grew up, it was our practice to open the presents from aunts, uncles, etc. on Christmas Eve, then the presents from Santa the next morning. A little variant on this was that, if I were sick, as I often was with bronchitis or similar ailment, I was allowed to open one present a day.

For Marge, she was adamant that the only correct way for celebrating Christmas was to open the presents on Christmas morning. So,on this I accepted her way.

Becoming a couple brought a lot of unexpected challenges to deal with and we were slowly getting used to this. Of course, more severe challenges were to come along the way, but I think we were off to a reasonable start in dealing responsibly with the small issues.


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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