Monday, May 12, 2014

We beat the odds ~ My column from Sunday's paper

There is no photographic record of our wedding. I had a state-of-the-art Canon F1 camera in 1974 that I paid for on the installment plan, but I was always behind the lens and rarely in front.

We had driven to Brewton, Alabama, to the home of Coy Phillips and his wife Brenda. Coy had been the preacher where Jilda’s family attended church.

I’d worn blue jeans on the ride down. Jeans and a T-shirt were all I wore in those days except for special occasions. For the ceremony, I put on grey slacks, a white shirt and a brown velvet jacket. Jilda had on a beige voile dress with crochet lace trim and she looked like a China doll.

Standing on the front porch of a doublewide trailer, the preacher opened his tattered Bible and began to read from 1st Corinthians. His voice rang out to anyone within earshot.

It was a warm afternoon in south Alabama but a gentle breeze blew out of the west and cooled my face.

I gave Brenda a crash course in wedding photography showing her how to look through the viewfinder, how to focus and which buttons to push. My instructions must have sounded like Mandarin Chinese to her because after the honeymoon when I developed the film, the negatives looked as though the pictures were shot at midnight without a flash.

We said our goodbyes to Coy and Brenda and aimed our old Plymouth Valiant towards the beach.

We stopped at a mom and pop convenience store just south of town and bought a couple of Hostess Twinkies. We parked under the shade of a giant oak, pulled a chilled bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine from the cooler in the back seat, ate our Twinkies, and with red plastic cups we toasted our future together.

We honeymooned at the Quinn Cottages in Laguna Beach, which is just west of Panama City. Jilda’s family had stayed with the Quinn’s each summer for many years, and the elderly couple was like family.

We spent our days swimming in the warm water of the gulf, walking on the beach and eating seafood so fresh, I’m surprised it didn’t wiggle.

The cottages were built with concrete blocks and had no AC, so we slept on the screened porch and fell asleep each night to the sound of the surf.

There were no condos then, only mom and pop stores, restaurants and sea shell shops. It was a place where people from up north came year after year because it was like a community.

After the honeymoon, we headed home, which in those days was a 12x65 foot house trailer on a small lot we rented from the Lion’s Club.

I worked for The Community News and Jilda worked at Keynote Fashions. Even with our combined wages, we probably qualified for government assistance, but we made it fine most of the time.

A handicapper in Las Vegas would have given odds that our marriage wouldn't last. There were times when the stars lined up against us, and it might have been easier to walk away, but we didn't.

As I sit here reflecting on our 40th anniversary, I'm happy we found each other and found a way to beat the odds.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. are a beautiful couple with a beautiful spirit! I wish you many years of love and happiness to come! Happy Anniversary to you both!

  3. I am happy for you both that you found a way to beat the odds ... it's so lovely to see a couple make it this long and still be in love :)

  4. Dear Rick, like "Launna," I, too, am happy for you both. I've never been married but many of my friends are and I've watched from afar as they've worked through hard places in their marriage. It seems to me that anything worthwhile takes work, and surely a good marriage that helps both of you grow as human beings is worth working for. So congratulations on that also. Peace.

  5. Couldn't help but smile as I read this as our story is very similar to yours. I think that many young couples now make the mistake of focusing on the wedding and give little thought to the actual marriage. Congratulations to you and Jilda!!

  6. Holy cow... 40 years. Congrats!

  7. Stories like this make me smile and help to restore my faith in love and relationships.


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