Courtship and Engagement | Part 4

by Elouise

Are we almost there? I think so.

Starvation Rations
That’s what I call the connections between D and me during our long, seemingly endless engagement. We had tons of hope, love and trust. They go a long way. But I really missed the mundane things. Here’s my short list of daily and periodic rations.

  • Letters – hundreds of them, going both ways. Handwritten. Delivered by snail mail.
  • Phone calls – not so many. Very expensive calling across the country. Awkward at best.
  • One photo on my dresser – nothing fancy, just D’s senior photo for the yearbook. A head shot. Always smiling and pleasant. Clean-shaven, immaculate butch haircut. Did I say always smiling? That was important. I loved D in the photo.

While I Waited – 1st Year (Fall 1963-May 1964)
I finished my college degree. Did I miss D? Yes! Did I have time to pine and whine? A little, but not much. I was glad most of my friends knew D, and that many of D’s friends were still in college. I had more than enough to keep me occupied.

  • Keeping up with coursework
  • Keeping up with part-time jobs in the music department to help pay my tuition
  • Participating in student government and other student groups
  • Enjoying senior class outings and retreat
  • Going on choir tours and concerts; playing the piano for choir part practices
  • Giving reports on D and what he was doing
  • Explaining that I don’t know when I’ll see D again, or when we’ll get married
  • Showing off my engagement ring and watching it sparkle under bright lights
  • Hearing that President Kennedy had just been assassinated. I was taking a nap when my roommate woke me up with the news. One of the few times world news was suddenly front and center for us. The world was changing. Would we?

While I Waited – 2nd Year (Summer 1964-Summer 1965)
Now it’s a little harder. I’ve graduated. I’m back home in Savannah, working fulltime for My First Boss, traveling with him once a month to hear court cases. But I’m making a lot of money, saving it for our wedding. Which will be in September 1965! My daily routine is predictable.

  • Ride the bus to work.
  • Do the best I can under the circumstances—sometimes easier, sometimes difficult. Read about it here.
  • Try not to get involved in conversations about racial issues.
  • Try to keep a good distance between me and My First Boss.
  • Ride the bus home from work.
  • Try not to look at colored people walking past me to sit in the back of the bus. I’m embarrassed and feel shame because I’m allowed to sit in the front of the bus. I don’t know how to behave.
  • Look for a letter from D. Write a letter to D. Think about D. Obsess about getting married to D.
  • Go to the bank every week with my paycheck to make a deposit into my wedding account.

Visits from D
You may be wondering when I saw D. I was wondering the same thing when I bid him that very teary farewell. Here’s the painful truth.

  • D came to see me for Christmas 1963. We hadn’t seen each other for 5 months.
  • D came to see me for Christmas 1964. We hadn’t seen each other for 12 months.
  • D came to get ready for our wedding in late August 1965. We hadn’t seen each other for 8 months.

This should probably be up there with other starvation rations.

One More Thing
I know. I said this would be the last installment. But I still have some stories to tell. So as painful as it is, I’m begging your forgiveness ahead of time and letting you know there will be at least one more part to this account.

Thank you for your patience! It will be rewarded.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 March 2015