One of the granddaughters asked me to do a “grandmother’s story” journal. So this is one answer to the many questions in the book.
How I met your father/grandfather
The Sunday evening before Goshen College closed for the winter break my freshman year, I went to services at First Baptist in Goshen, as I had several other times. Your dad says that he sat down in a pew, a group of women sat in front of him, I sat in in the row behind him with some other co-eds and a couple women came in on either side of him and sat down. His brother Forrest noticed he was surrounded with women, grinned and offered him a mint.
I really think that was another time when I visited, but nonetheless after a service, he introduced himself to me in the hallway as I waited for a ride back to the college. We chatted a bit and he offered to take me back to college, so my rode went on without me. We did not go right back to the college. He went by the drive-in and I ordered onion fries, which totally shocked him. He despised onion as a child, but he ate some that night and made sure I noticed the he was eating onions. Only after years of hearing his childhood stories about disliking onions does that make sense now.
You have noticed how much he likes to talk? Well, he talked and talked and showed me signs he had painted when he worked for the Brown sign company. He talked about how his wife had left him for someone else shortly after the previous Christmas. He talked about the shock, about her moving to West Virginia with someone else and how he went to visit his sons and was refused even a bit of time to share the gifts he had made them for Christmas. He talked about how he was taking legal action so he could see his children.
He talked a lot that night. A couple days later I left to go home to Bagdad, Arizona where I had graduated from high school that spring. He found it interesting that I had come all the way from Arizona to Goshen, Indiana where we met at church.
I found it ironic that I was in the back country of Arizona completing my college applications, going to prom, making my graduation dress and graduating, while he was in northern Indiana being served papers ending his marriage. I was celebrating, he was mourning. I was moving away from my parents; he was moving in with his parents for economical reasons related to the divorce.
I anticipated college for years. Weeks after high school I signed up for a summer session at Yavapai Community College in Prescott, Arizona. They had just completed the first dorm. I was the only student in the dorm that summer. I studied and enjoyed the solitude of an empty dorm and the classes I took. I intended to go to the second session, but not enough students signed up for the second summer session. I went home and packed college and our family’s summer trip back to New York to visit the Hibbard and Waight families. The trunk I had filled for my college dorm room was left at the reception desk at Goshen College.
(A side note. When an evangelist came to our church in Arizona my parents mentioned I would attend Goshen College. “Oh, that college has gone down the drain. It had become so liberal.” he said. My parents were concerned but they did not say “don’t go there.” When we drove up to the college, we saw a sign pointing to a student rec center “The Drain”. My mom laughed, “It really had gone down the drain.”)
My parents left me in New York with my Aunt Calysta and Uncle Dick. I sewed clothes for my cousin Sara and then took the bus to Goshen. The night before I boarded the bus my stomach was upset from excitement. I was finally getting to go to college!
Registration was a whirl of activity in the gym where stations enrolling in classes., signing up for financial aid, taking out a loan and buying books. College and the promise of learning more swirled around me as each person told me what to do.
I settled into my dorm room with my sewing machine (my high school graduation gift, set up my typewriter (My mother considered typing very important for college students. So we all took typing and we then received a typewriter for college.) I signed up for calculus class and realized I needed trigonometry first.. I changed my major a time or two, tried to figure out what was happening in the classes, wrote my papers and read the books assigned. In Bible class we had one book that the professor wanted read on the side. I wrote myself a note “read a chapter a week and make notes.” I did exactly that. Meticulous notes. The next semester I loaned the book and my notes to another student. She added her note, “I did not read a chapter a week Thank you for such great notes.”
The second semester I asked to live across the street in a private home that rented rooms. I had a bed, dresser and a housemate in another bedroom. I still ate in the college cafeteria – with the early risers. I worked in the college cafeteria for my work scholarship.
It was at this little house that Marion Joseph Hershberger courted me and talked about his pursuit of visitation with his sons. In English class we were assigned one of Emily Bronte’s books before a tv stations showed the movie. He read the book and then watched the movie with me and my housemate (Brenda Rafuse). Only novel he ever read as an adult.
He picked me up to go to church. Years later he told others that on the college’s “Girls ask the boys weekend” that I asked a guy from college to go to church with me and he drove us there. I also asked different guys to go to two or three other events with me, probably a concert or play. I went to nd just about everything EXCEPT basketball games. Even though I lived in the state of Hoosier Hysteria, I only went to one college game. It was a date. I sat there beside the guy and watched the game. My roommate sat on the other side of the gym in the bleachers. That night she said, “You did not seem to be enjoying it.” No I really had not. I never have enjoyed loud noisy crowds. I like quiet. I like one on one conversations with people. I like reading books. That was the last basketball game I went to for many years. So, although your dad was pursuing me, I was pursuing the college life from my points of interest.
He took me to church. Thanks for the ride.
I went on with college life. He was just the guy giving me a ride to church – and telling me whatever was happening in his life. Eventually, we began praying together about his family before I went into the house. The woman who owned the house told him he should come inside and not sit in the car. We talked in the living room a lot. One day he took me out to some lake and asked me to marry him. I told him, “I will think about it.”
Okay, he understood, but he did hint about it in many ways. Finally I said, “Stop asking, or the answer is no. I will tell you when I am ready.”
My parents were not too sure about this older, divorced man who had come into their teenage daughter’s life. I listened and read their letters and thought and prayed.
Goshen had a trimester system. I took a short session. Your dad had much to say over the phone every night before I went to sleep.
My parents returned for their annual summer visit to New York. That was about the time I said, “Okay, I’ll marry you.” We picked out a ring. Nothing flashy, he had a lot of legal bills, child support, credit card bills and a car payment and more expenses ahead.
I left for NY. My dad and I talked a lot about that guy. Meanwhile your dad likes to tell that he got off work and drove all the way to New York trailing behind us a few hours. He had the ring for me. Early in the morning he called me from the little motel down the road from my Hibbard Grandparents. My being there was supposed to be a surprise to my grandmother. The phone call ruined it. I figured out that Marion Joseph was not home, from the sound of trucks going by the phone booth. I told him it was early and he needed to spend his time praying.
He came to the house, and talked with my dad. Dad was not happy about him being divorced. People just did not do divorce and remarriage readily 45-50 years ago. Your dad talked about Hosea, he talked about other passages in the Bible. Dad gave his blessing. I was not part of that conversation, ask him about it. Your dad visited the family and then drove through the night to be at work on Monday. I visited the family and went back to Arizona for a visit. And I slept and slept and slept. I was worn out.
I alsp went to Moody Bible Institute that summer so that I would have the right kind of theology for my required Bible classes. Your dad came up to visit me every weekend and we went to church together, visited a variety of churches and saw the sights in Chicago. I think he slept in his car by the lake. I don’t know. I had a nice dorm room and bed. Your dad showed me how to use a camera at to take pictures of the water splashing up on the wall. My pictures turned out much better than his and he turned the camera over to me.
I had intended to return to Goshen for the fall semester. We had decided we would be married on the day between our birthdays. I told someone “well I know the date, I just don’t know the year.” We had some discussion about returning to college. I wanted to go. He did not want the debt. I finally agreed to not go but to find a job. Let’s see, I tried being a waitress at Azars, (He came in as a customer and left me a dime tip in the bottom of his water glass.)
I went to work at a factory that made cheerleader costumes. A very bright cheerful place with older women. I had a job at a factory where I made cushions for RVs. Your dad took a part time job there cutting out fabric. The supervisor told him it was a promising career move. I think we worked a short second shift.
I worked at a factory where they assembled annoying buzzers for new saftey feature: seat belts. First I assembled the parts and spent evening listening to the electronic buzz of half a dozen stations where we assembled the things. I hated that noise. The supervisor put me on another machine where I kicked a lever that slid the copper strips through the rubber sleeving for the buzzer. I could spend my time memorizing. It was a much quieter job, more solitude. I enjoyed people during the break.
So I did not go back to my sophomore year of college, Instead I worked, saved up my money and had enough to pay off my school loans before we married. Your dad asked to use the money for some of his loans with higher interest rates and he repaid me by paying the school loans.
I made my wedding gown. We prepared for marriage and a court hearing.
Sometime in the fall, the judge heard the issues: That there had been no court approval for the sons to be moved out of state and away from the father. That the visitation promised had not been fulfilled. Other issues were heard, but those two were the deciding point. I watched from the visitors seats. The court ordered that Randy and Tim be brought back to Indiana to live with their dad because their mother did not honor the divorce decree and had denied visitation.
So Randy who was in kindergarten in Indiana while I was a senior in Arizona. Like me he attended three first grades. West Virginia, Goshen, and, after we married, Wakarusa. Tim was just sorting out speech, bathroom habits and learning to draw and color.
We married on a Sunday afternoon several weeks after Randy and Tim returned to Indiana.
I made my dress for my wedding. We did not have a reception because no one offered to give one for us and your dad said we could not give ourselves a reception. So no reception, no cake. Years later, on our 15th anniversary, he bought a fancy tiered cake for me. That came as a result of going to a niece’s wedding. Nice reception, lots of food, but no cake. The bride said, “You don’t need all that sugar.” On the way home, your dad said something like “well we had one.”
I looked at him, “No we didn’t. We could not give ourselves a reception, remember? So we did not have a cake.” (His mother did make a simple white cake for us. We opened the gifts people brought to the wedding at his mom’s place while my cousins, aunts, sister and mother watched.)
He did a double take when I said that, took his foot out of his mouth and the next anniversary, our 15th, he ordered a three-tiered cake, had it hidden in the back of our van. He presented it to me at the restaurant where we ate (just the two of us). I was pleased with the cake and embarrassed to have so many people looking at us. I wanted to leave right then and there. So we did. And I sat in the back seat and looked at that cake all the way home (a 45 minute drive). We did not eat it for a few days because I wanted to just admire it.
We cut up all credit cards, gave our tithe and a generous offering, lived modestly on his income, paid off the legal bills, and saved for retirement. (and made a few financial mistakes along the way, but that is another story)
That was our beginning. Since I turned 20 the day after we married, I was officially a teenage bride. In two short years, I went from high school in Arizona (my junior year I was in Cedar City, Utah) and two years later, having one year of college behind me, I marry a man 12 years my senior whose wife left him for someone else.
The summer we delivered my college trunk to Goshen College, his sons moved out of state to West Virginia. About the time I changed my major, we crossed paths at church.
After listening to him talk about the college he needed and had missed I urged him to go. He went and finished up remodeling the house and his degree about the same time. Then we moved south and a couple years later I plunged into finishing my degree.
That’s how we met and married.