Oh it was heavenly! He knows all the little innuendoes of kissing and I ain’t so bad m’self, if I do say so. We kissed for about an hour and a half. Tonight was like a page from a storybook, and he definitely is the man I want to marry. Dear God, please let it come true!!
Mom wrote the above description in her diary about her first date (8/15/1941) with my Dad. I’m giving a sneak preview here of an early part of my upcoming book, Redlined, in which I describe how my parents first met, the beginning of the saga of our family’s life on Chicago’s West Side.
I include here a description from an earlier draft, which includes more details of Sieben’s Brewery, another first-date stop-by. I remember it from years later, when it was a favorite destination for a family outing on summer evenings–years after they went here in August 1941.
I never knew about this first date until I discovered my mother’s journal after her death. Here’s how I pictured the scene, based on my mother’s diary entry:
“Fred and Lil started with a German movie; then a stroll through nearby Lincoln Park Zoo. Caressed by the warm summer breeze, they walked arm-in-arm, laughing and exchanging stories–a million things to talk about. Dad suggested heading over to Sieben’s, an outdoor brewery just a few blocks west.
Dozens of patrons gathered at communal picnic tables set up in rows, enclosed by a wooden fence festooned with blossom-filled flower boxes. The night air buzzed with chatter and bonhomie––a perfect atmosphere to eat ham sandwiches on rye, smeared with spicy brown mustard and washed down with a couple frosty mugs of beer. Then, back to the park. When Mom returned home, she must have torn open her diary right then and there to pour out her expanding heart:
I think we both knew why we went back [to the park. We sat on a bench hearing the lions roar and ducks quacking. Oh it was heavenly! He knows all the little innuendoes of kissing and I ain’t so bad m’self, if I do say so. And he enjoyed it too, I’ll say. We kissed for about an hour and a half. I hope and pray he will phone me again. I can’t really believe it happened!! Tonight was like a page from a storybook, and he definitely is the man I want to marry. Dear God, please let it come true!!
Mom’s words opened a door into her twenty-three-year-old heart, and I peered in, watching my parents’ blossoming love unfold and expand like a pop-up card. I was eager for more, knowing how lucky I was to meet my parents as they once were—young and in love.”
That last sentence pretty much sums it up, but it’s not just about my parents or my family. What the diaries have taught me, after poring through hundreds of pages, is the power of love. How love hurts and heals. How love may change over time, but true love has staying power, even as it may change from the heat of passion to warming embers of contentment. What are your stories of love?