by Mary A. Scobey
On our second date the handsome young man I had met scarcely a week previously leaned toward me and placed a soft kiss on my lips. Quite surprised, I exclaimed, “Do you think we know each other well enough for that?” I’ll never forget his reply: “That’s one way to get to know each other better.” I couldn’t deny the logic in that. They say you have to date a lot of frogs before you meet Prince Charming. Well, I hadn’t dated that many frogs, but I knew that evening that I had met my Prince Charming.
I was twenty-seven years old and almost convinced that I was meant to live a life of spinsterhood. Yep, just me and my cats. My cousins of comparable age had already found their soul mates and were happily situated with a home and little ones on the way, but no one even half acceptable had come my way. I was beginning to feel rather “left behind.”
My parents and I had moved to Memphis, Tennessee, back to our beloved South, the summer of 1952 after a chaotic eighteen months living on the prairies of Kansas, where I taught my first year of school in a one room school house. After relocating in a Whitehaven ranch-type home with Mom and Dad, I had taken a position teaching first grade in a Shelby County school and had become friends with a newly married teacher who was originally from a Mississippi town near where I grew up. It wasn’t until one day before Christmas break, however, that she casually mentioned having recently run across a former boy friend from Coffeeville, Mississippi. She said, “Mary, you should meet him. Do you mind if I give him your telephone number?” Of course I didn't mind…but something rang a bell. This wasn’t the first time a friend had told me they knew a guy from Coffeeville I should meet. This had happened previously a couple of years before I graduated from “Ole Miss,” but this mysterious young man, who was a student there at the same time I was, never materialized. Coffeeville was a very small town. Could this be the same guy??
The telephone rang one day shortly after Christmas, and a pleasant voice identified himself as Gene Scobey, the young man my friend at school had spoken of. After chatting a few minutes, he asked if I would like to accompany him to a movie the following Sunday. I assured him I would love to, but I was packing to go to Kansas City for my brother’s wedding. In fact, I was leaving the next day. I was convinced that having been put off, I would not hear from him again…but I was wrong.
He began coming to see me three or four times a week, and we went to movies or out to dinner but most often talked well into the night. It seemed we had much in common. We were both from small towns in Mississippi; in fact, I was born just over the line from the same county where Gene was born and raised. We were both Christians of the Baptist faith and had the same values; we were both graduates of the University of Mississippi, and devoted fans of the “Ole Miss” Rebels football team. Even our fathers were graduates of the same college – Mississippi State in Starkville. I remember one evening we continued our conversation until 3 a.m., much to the disapproval of our neighbors, who made it their business to keep up with the comings and goings of Mary’s new beau and were, indeed, scandalized at such late hours. Needless to say, I fell asleep during rest time at school the next day and awoke to a small voice saying, “Wake up, Miss Ashmore.” It was a good thing the principal didn’t walk in to see such a sight.
Gene was very affectionate but a proper young gentleman. We did our share of “smooching” but nothing more, I assure you. After dating for about six weeks with such amorous evenings, I found the nerve to ask him if he loved me. He replied, “You’ll be the first to know when I do.” I was quite taken aback.
A few weeks later Gene invited me to accompany him home to Coffeeville to meet his parents (a good omen) and to spend the day, of course. An over-night visit would not have been proper. This called for a new dress and a new spring coat. I was really anxious to make a good impression. I liked his parents and his brother, Bert, as well as Bert’s girl friend, Jean, but it was some time before I heard what his mother thought of me. Gene finally confided that her appraisal was, “I think she might grow on you.” Could have been better, but certainly could have been worse. Right?
Not too much later Gene proclaimed his love for me and several weeks after-wards, he proposed. I loved Gene dearly and promptly accepted. I was in seventh Heaven! We began making plans for our wedding and decided on the date – June 20, 1953. It had been scarcely six months since we met. There were some (no names, of course) who thought we were being too hasty. Did we not need to get to know each other better? I had never been so sure of anything in my life. We had spent endless hours together discussing every subject imaginable, and we had so much in common. But more importantly, we loved each other. I had found my soul mate and Gene assured me he felt the same way.
Before we married, Gene’s father told me he had never known anyone with such an even disposition as his first born son, and I agree. Gene is always calm, reassuring and optimistic - rare traits, indeed. Gene and I will celebrate fifty-six years of wedded bliss this June 20th. We have had a wonderful life together, blessed with two beautiful children, a son and a daughter, who have made us so proud - and now three handsome grandsons, who are our pride and joy.
I often think about how people kept telling me all those years ago that I should meet this guy from Coffeeville and how slim the odds of our ever getting together were, but I do believe in divine intervention. Don't tell me some things are not meant to be.
Writing short stories and poems has always been a favorite pastime of Mary's. She wrote her first poem at the age of eleven, got it published and has been "hooked" ever since. She currently has a book of her father's World War I memoirs titled French Memoirs - World War I for sale on the shelves of Square Books in Oxford and Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis.
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Apple Head Dolls
Out of My Element
Old? Who, me?
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