The Love Story: Part I

Today I went to lunch with my grandparents. This may not seem like a big deal to many, but to me: It’s a huge deal.

You see, I love my grandparents more than I can express. Any time I get with them, I treasure. They have been my example of true love, romance, encouragement and trust throughout the years. They are my vision of a successful, nurturing relationship. They have been my solid ground since the day I was born. They have inspired me, listened to me cry, watch me grow, help fund my dreams. They have picked me up from school, clapped for me at the end of shows, purchased countless bouquets of flowers. They are not just my mother’s parents. They are so, so very much more.

A while back, I asked them some questions about their story. I was going to re-write it, but after reading their responses, in their own words… it is too beautiful to tamper with. I will be telling their story in a series of posts.

Today is Part One: The Meeting {How my fearless grandfather and my beautiful grandmother met}

My Grandfather’s Story: In September, 1951 I went to the very popular Tobacco Festival Parade on Broad Street in Richmond. At that time, it was the biggest thing in town every year. Princesses from many parts of the state vied for the title of “Tobacco Bowl Queen.” Jane {Sheena’s Note: my grandmother} was “Miss Blackstone.” I watched the princesses ride by, each seated on the back of a fancy convertible automobile. As she came into view, I saw her waving to the crowd and was immediately and absolutely smitten by her beauty. I thought and said to the one who was with me, “That’s the prettiest girl I ever saw.” I never expected to see her again.

In late October, 1951, Jane and her sister, Jackie, visited at the evening discipleship session at Grove Avenue Baptist Church (in Richmond), were I was president and leading the meeting. My brother was there also. He greeted Jane and Jackie and before the night was over had their telephone number. I didn’t know her name, but I remembered that beautiful face. It never dawned on me that I would be able to date her. In fact, I learned that she was “pre-engaged” to a fellow who was serving in the armed forces in Korea. He was not expected to return for at least another year.

Hoping that I might get lucky and have a date with her, I asked my brother for her telephone number. He wouldn’t give it to me. I tried several times but to no avail. I offered him $5.00, which was a lot of money in those days, for it, but still he refused.  Determined as I was, I knew that she and her sister had signed a visitor’s card when they visited the church, so I got two of my friends to go to the church office with me to look through a large stack of cards. “Bingo!” I got it!

I was shy around girls in those days—I was seventeen years old and a freshman at the University of Richmond, and I thought that it would be a waste of time to call and ask this girl if she would go to a movie with me (I was into big time entertainment in those days), but I wanted to try. I figured she was booked up for weeks and wouldn’t have time for me, but I called her. We talked for a while, and I asked her out. Just as I thought, she couldn’t go. She was going home to Blackstone to see her parents that week-end. Disappointed but not surprised, I asked about the next week-end, and holy mackerel she said, “Yes!” I like to have fainted. I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t know what else to say. I thanked her and hung up the phone, so excited I felt like I had climbed “Mt. Everest” on my first try. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that I hadn’t suggested a time to pick her up. So I had to call back and apologize, but we got it settled. I don’t remember a lot about that night, but I do remember it took me a long time to get to sleep.

My Grandmother says: It was in a discipleship group at Grove Avenue Baptist Church, and Fred had the program; it was good. Dating him never crossed my mind as I thought I had found the one I wanted. He was in the service, stationed in Hawaii, finally ending up in Korea. However, Fred called and asked me out, and we had a good time. I continued going out with him until it got to be every night he would come over.

After he got a car, he would come in the mornings and take me to work and sometimes meet me for lunch. He “grew on me”, and I was falling in love with him. But first I felt like I had to wait for Jack to come home before I made a decision, even though I knew what that decision would be. I had been praying for God to lead me to the one I was to marry, and he did.

When asked, “What was the first thing you thought when you saw each other?” My grandfather said, “Infatuated, stunned.” My grandmother said, “Impressed with his leadership; and I thought he was a nice guy.”

My grandparents recently celebrated 58 years together. One of their mutual, lifelong friends said this: “I’m not family so I can be a little more direct about what happened 58 years ago and suggest they are qualified to serve in high places.  Considering what Fred pulled off, the country needs him negotiating for the State Department.  And, Janie has proven to be qualified to address the United Nations on world peace.”

Read Part II here!

Read Part III here!


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2 responses to “The Love Story: Part I”

  1. Christian says:

    Love this post and treasure your time with your grandparents. They are some of the most influential people in your life.

  2. Angela Skaggs says:

    Very special documentation of a lovely story. Can’t wait for part II!

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