Wilson Cottage – Syracuse University

I have rambled  about myself with little concerning Marge. Now I try to remedy that as best I can. This is a copy of the cover letter Marge sent me after, what I thought, was a disastrous first real date, the disaster due entirely to me. She had stapled to it a hand typed copy of “DOWN WITH PIGEONS” written by a humorist, Robert Benchley. The letter is old and wrinkled, but then so is the author of this post.

Pigeon letter from Marge

Pigeon letter from Marge

Marge’s letter to me, was saying “Silly man, I really enjoyed going downtown on our date to see Cinerama.  Let’s get together again soon.”  I hadn’t blown it and I was not going to let her implied invitation go unanswered. Now I include my response, written in the same stiff formal prose as her  letter.

Pigeon Letter response by Bob

Pigeon Letter Response by Bob

Do these letters seem to you a strange way to begin a lasting relationship between a boy and a girl? They certainly do not read like typical love letters, but they were. It is certainly not the “Across the crowded room” and bingo!, nor the wham-bang-alakazam instant rush of recognition. Marge had a “quirky” sense of humor that I valued and enjoyed. We started to see each other often as well as call on the phone.

On April 21, I called her around 9:00 p.m. and we just chatted for a while and I said good-bye in about 5 minutes. Then, surprising me, in another 5 minutes Marge called me and said she wanted to see  and talk to me. Naturally, I drove the Plymouth around to pick her up. She had taken a 12:00 leave from the house-mother and we just drove around. We talked for a while, parked for a while and talked some more. I don’t remember the specifics, but like peeling an onion, we were throwing away the useless  outer layers.

Please don’t think that my memory is so precise as to exact times. I do remember the event very generally and I have a letter Marge wrote to her Mom about this. Since this site is about both of us, I think it will be OK to quote some of Marge’s April 21, 1958 letter to her Mom:

“Dear Mom,

Tonight – well tonight has been wonderful.  I can’t really say why, it certainly didn’t start out that way, but – tonight has been wonderful. …( I have been and, I quote “balled up” unquote.) I called Bob – I wanted to see him and talk to him. I thought he could un-ball me.

…I realize it doesn’t sound quite right; but Mom, I came in at 11:45; I was with him less than two hours; and I am full of peace;  We came to no momentous decisions; nothing was decided, and yet I am full of that lovely quiet peace!

I want to tell you how wonderful it is, and I cannot. I cannot tell you what happened – it is kind of like some wondrous secret that must be kept.

I can only tell you this – my eyes feel like they are glowing, and my mouth is in a small, quiet smile; and inside there is a very wonderful knowingness that everything is right.”

I cannot come anywhere close to Marge’s ability expressing herself in words, but I want to give you a spacial reference to the addresses shown.  I have already written plenty about the Infirmary, but nothing really about where Marge lived, Wilson Cottage on South Crouse Street. Here is a map showing the approximate relationships of our two residences. Marge lived right around the corner from me.

Map of Syracuse University in 1958

Map of Syracuse University in 1958

 I did access the S. U. Archives and did find a little information on the Cottages, as S.U. called them.  I include that below. The buildings are in the Victorian style,  once private residences. Probably for University teachers and staff people. I am thankful that the Archives have at least this much information, they have been helpful but I can’t specifically identify Wilson. The photo was originally a postcard taken in the early 20th century.  Time and copying has dimmed the contrast of this photo so I have warmed it up a bit with a sepia tint. Imagine any of the three houses as being Wilson, you might just be correct. 

Cottage Row, Syracuse University

Cottage Row, Syracuse University

I do have one photo of Marge and I at Wilson.  The occasion was the Engineers Ball dinner at the Brae Lock Inn in Cazenovia, NY, about 35 minutes away.   In February I was elected into the Alpha Pi Mu chapter of the Industrial Engineering honorary society, Pi Alpha Mu.  The Ball included recognition of new members.  Of course, I invited Marge to go with me. Marge had a Kodak Duraflex reflex camera and she had another girl take our photo. The photo’s date is May 10, 1958.  I am the guy looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

Marge and I on our way to the Engineer's Ball

Marge and I on our way to the Engineer’s Ball

Marge saved another photo from the same film roll.  I don’t know exactly where this photo was taken,  but I have so few photos from that time, I include it.

Marge at Syracuse Univ. May 21, 1958

Marge at Syracuse Univ. May 21, 1958


Marge had good reason being cautious.  Her parent’s marriage ended the prior year and, as I wrote before, at about her age of 10, she decided that no men were trustworthy based on her father. During High School and her Freshman year at Syracuse, boys and men had drifted in and then after a while, drifted out of her life. I knew extremely little about her past nor her resulting emotions.   Possibly, had I, I would have been more understanding of her temperamental moods.  

 I was not then, nor am I  now an expert on understanding women. I dated some, and had summer romances in the resorts where I worked. Those were pleasant experiences, but in no way special.

  I understood that I did not want to lose Marge, she was definitely special and I was not going to drift away.  We were falling in love, a new experience for both of us.  In our future we experienced ups, downs and in-betweens, misunderstandings, doubts, and  other negatives, as do many couples.

Through the decades of our couplehood,   we  really belonged together.

Riverview Cemetery, Hancock, NY

Riverview Cemetery, Hancock, NY

We still do.






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).
This entry was posted in Pre Marriage life, Relationships, Syracuse, Syracuse University and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Wilson Cottage – Syracuse University

  1. ingridmg2014 says:

    Thanks for another heart warming post about “The Way (You) Were.” So glad that you two found each other and could enjoy being silly together–and with us girls, too.

    • R.J.F. says:

      Yes I took a little different approach this time. Marge told Pat, late in her life that “Bob and I were really meant for each other.” After Marge died Pat passed this along to me. Not always easy, but as the short forward to these posts states, the struggle means that the marriage is working, and I believe that.

  2. Allan T says:

    That was neat, I do remember that Marge had a way of saying things, that made her point, yet did not directly say what she meant. I knew what she was saying, I understood that Leah( our supervisor) understood her meaning. I am sure most of the younger folks were confused on her meaning. Anyway, I am rambling, I just wanted to say it is interesting hearing how your relationship became one from the start.

    • R.J.F. says:

      Thanks Allan, Marge read a lot and had a tremendous vocabulary. If she was having a conversation and wasn’t sure what word to use, she would make one up on her own and it would fit exactly. I have got to the point in this writing where I am trying to become more personal not “just the facts mam” as they used to say on the Dragnet series. Did you see the recent movie “Mr. Holmes” I saw it a couple weeks ago and it was very different from all the past version of Holmes. It takes place at Holmes’ country home with his bees, that were mentioned now and then in the series. Watson is dead and Holmes is trying to piece together a story, the REAL story about his last case some 30+ years ago. He is now in his 90s and his memory is fading and as bits of pieces come back to him, he writes them in his journal. When finished, he realizes he could have handled the relationship concerning a beautiful, of course, young woman, better since she commits suicide. In a general sense, I am trying to remember my own past decades ago and realize how I could have handled things better. It won’t become a movie, that’s for sure, and I appreciate your saying it was interesting. Hi to Janice.

  3. Louise says:

    I love those photos – I can see “my mother” in them even though my memories of her are from many years afterwards. And what a wonderful note. I know that even though you two had your share of difficulties, you truly were meant to be together through it all.

    (P. S. I have tried to post this comment several times and it keeps not taking it – hopefully this time is the chRm. Apologize if there are duplicates)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.