February 7, 1968, Chapter Five

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February 7, 1968, Chapter Five

The middle of January 1968, Jimmy and Frank were supposed to register to go back to school at Wharton County Junior College but after talking with the registrar and my Dad, they decided to enlist in the Army. It seems that they had been spending more time drinking Tall Boy beer and playing pool at a place nearby the college than going to classes. Their grades had also suffered badly. Since going to college and making good grades was their only deferment from the draft, it was in their best interest to just join the Army.

Frank and Jimmy went to a recruiter to talk to him about their best choices. The recruiter talked them into joining the ASA, Army Security Agency, for four years. He promised them that they would never go to Vietnam because the ASA was not in Vietnam, which was a total lie. The recruiter also told them that they would be on the Buddy System which meant where ever one of them went the other would also go which would also be proven to be untrue. Frank and Jimmy signed the papers and then went home.

When Frank got to his house, he called me and asked me if I would like to go out to eat that night. I told him yes but that we did not have to go out to eat because I knew he had just spent money on tuition at the college. He told me that he wanted to take me out somewhere nice to eat. I told him that was nice and I would go.

Frank picked me up at about 7:00 that evening and we drove to Bay City to a favorite restaurant that we both liked. We ate and just enjoyed being together. When we finished eating, Frank paid the food bill and we walked hand in hand to his car. After we got into the car and drove out of the parking lot, Frank told me he would like to go somewhere quiet where we could be alone together and talk. He drove us to a small park in town then turned off the car. I could see when I looked into his eyes that he had something bothering him. We sat there in silence for a minute.

Then Frank said, “Nancy, I enlisted in the Army today.”

My heart sank and I was trying hard to fight back tears. My head was swimming in total confusion! Was the love of my life breaking up with me? Had I been a complete fool? How could I ever live without him? So many emotions and questions! Then, I finally had to know the answers.

I took a breath trying to hold back the tears, then I timidly asked him, “Frank, what about us?”

Frank pulled me close to him, cupped my face in his hands, looked into my eyes and kissed me.

When our kiss ended Frank told me, “Nancy, we are getting engaged before I leave for basic training and then after basic training, I am coming home and we are getting married then you are going to go with me where ever I go. I love you with all of my heart and I can’t live life without you, Nancy.”

Frank kissed me again and I felt like I was absolutely floating on a cloud! God had definitely given me such a wonderful gift! I was going to be Frank’s wife and I could not have ever asked for anything better. Frank and I were true soulmates. We were both eighteen years old and only thirty hours separated the days of our birth. Frank was born late at night of October 4, 1949 and I was born in the morning of October 6, 1949. I am not sure if this is what made our connection so strong but I do know that in the future it would become even stronger and amazing things would happen.

I have no doubt that God intended on us to become one heart and soul. This all happened on February 7, 1968.

Frank told me that he had not told his parents yet about him joining the service or his plans for us but would tell them the next day. We talked some more about the future and just sat there looking at the stars and being in love.

Frank told his parents the next day, February 8, 1968, that he had joined the Army and then he told them that he was getting married. I had not formally met Frank’s folks as his girlfriend but I knew them from church. Frank had always told them when he left to go out at night that he was going to Jimmy’s house. Frank’s folks did not have a clue that he was dating Jimmy’s sister. So, when Frank told his folks he wanted to get married his Dad asked him, “Frank, who are you going to marry, Jimmy?”

Frank then explained to them that he had been dating me. I am sure that it was quite a shock for them but then again everything he told them that day was a shock! Since Frank’s folks had married at our age and his Dad was in the Army at the time, they understood what was in his heart and agreed to us getting married.

My folks, on the other hand, knew that we had been dating since late November of 1967 but I was still in high school and would finish my Senior year the end of May 1968. I had been accepted into The University of Texas and I was also accepted into a sorority dorm on campus, so us getting married might just be a problem. Everything was moving really fast but so was the love in our hearts.

Frank called me and asked me for a date that same night. Frank picked me up and then we went for a drive. Frank wanted to talk to me about asking my Dad for my hand in marriage and he was a little nervous about it. Dad already knew that Frank had joined the Army, so I told him to just ask my Dad.

Then Frank asked me, “Nancy, what if he says no?”

I told Frank, “Mom and Dad love you and Dad is not going to say no. We are both eighteen years old, we can make this decision for ourselves and they know that.”

Frank seemed to be less worried then but still had some doubts. It was still early so Frank looked at me then said, “Let’s go do it Lou.” Frank smiled at me and I returned his smile. After all what could happen?

Frank and I drove to my house. When we arrived, we got out of the car, walked through the garage and entered the house through the garage door which led into the kitchen. I really thought that Frank would actually squeeze my hand off as we walked holding hands through the garage!

Frank and I said hello to my parents and then sat down at the bar. I sat on a stool facing the kitchen and Frank sat directly across from me on the kitchen side of the bar on a stool facing the den. On Frank’s right side was the kitchen stove. Dad was sitting on the couch in the den which faced the kitchen. He could see Frank sitting on the stool in the kitchen. Mom was ironing clothes close to the bar.

Frank was really nervous and was leaning back on two of the legs of the stool he was sitting on rocking back and forth. I looked at Frank who was looking very pale and smiled then without speaking tried to encourage him to speak. by mouthing to him without words, “Do it, Frank.”, “What are you waiting for?”.

Frank was looking at me and leaning back on two legs of his stool when he suddenly blurted out, “Mr. Blakley, what do you think about Nancy and I getting married?”

There was a brief silence in the room and then Dad rose from the couch looked at Frank and said loudly, “Frank, I don’t think a damn thing about it!”

Frank, who was rocking back and forth on his bar stool, fell over backward, hit the side of his head on the stove handle and fell to the kitchen floor!

I sat there horrified thinking, “What just happened?”, “Is Frank okay”, when Dad started laughing loudly and ran over and helped Frank up off of the floor.

Dad told Frank that it was okay for us to get married and then shook Frank’s hand. What Frank did not know was that I had already told Dad that Frank had asked me to marry him the night before. I told Dad that I was in love with Frank and I also told Dad that Frank would be asking him if I could marry him soon.

My Dad was a jokester and he decided to play a joke on Frank. Dad and Mom loved Frank and he had already become a part of our family. My folks could see the love Frank and I had for each other and the love Frank had for all of my family.

I thought to myself, “Who wouldn’t love this freckled faced dimpled cheeked guy?”

The next night Frank’s folks invited me to come to their house for supper. It was my turn to be nervous. I could not seem to find the right dress to wear, the right shoes and my hair just would not do the right thing. I was a nervous wreck.

Finally, the time for Frank to pick me up came and we drove to his folk’s house. When we arrived, Frank and I got out of the car, walked to the front door and he opened the door so we could go into the house. Frank’s Mother had heard our car drive up outside and met us in the hallway.

Then she walked up to me and put her arms around me then said, “So, you are Nancy. Welcome to our home Nancy and welcome to our family.”

I was instantly in love with her and she had removed all of my fears.Then three of us walked into Frank’s folks den where his Dad sat.

Frank’s Dad got up from his chair, came over to me and hugged me then said, “Glad to meet you, Nancy and it is always a pleasure to meet all of Frank’s girlfriends.”

My mouth instantly gapped open in surprise but then He immediately started laughing and Frank laughed with him. I knew then that my Dad would not be the only jokester in our family.

We had an awesome supper sitting around their dining room table then I helped Frank’s Mom and I cleared the table and washed the dishes while Frank and his Dad went and sat in the den. When Frank’s Mom and I finished the dishes, we joined Frank and his Dad in the den.

We had so much fun just talking and getting to know each other. About 10:00 p.m., Frank and I said our goodbyes and we left so he could take me home.

On the drive to my house, Frank told me that the next morning he would like to take me to Bay City to look at engagement rings. He said that his Mom had asked him if she could go with us but he wanted to ask me first before giving her an answer. I told him that it was definitely alright with me for his Mom to go with us but I really did not need a ring to know I was engaged to him.

Frank just smiled his big dimpled face smile then said, “Nancy that’s one reason I love you but I want a ring on your finger saying you are all mine and not available to anyone else.”

I was thinking as I smiled back at him, “I will never be anyone else’s but yours with or without a ring on my finger.”, “I would even wear a rubber band,” “You are my heart and soul, my forever love.”

Then I told him, “Frank, I love you and you own my heart forever.”

The next morning which was February 10, 1968, Frank and his Mom picked me up at my house and we drove to Bay City. We went to a jewelry store named Secrest which was on one side of the square across from the County Courthouse. Frank’s parents had known the Secrest family for many years which made picking out a ring so much more personal and special.

Frank kept showing me these beautiful rings which had large diamonds but I had already spotted the ring that was perfect. It was very dainty with a small diamond setting on a slightly raised setting with two small diamond chips on either side of the diamond. The wedding band had three diamond chips evenly spaced in the top of the ring. Since I had small delicate hands and I liked delicate jewelry, I asked Frank if the ring described above could be my ring.

Frank just smiled at me, then said want, “Nancy, I want you to have any ring you want but please don’t worry about the cost.”

I told him, “Frank this is really the ring that I want.”

Frank’s Mom looked at me with the biggest smile. I guessed that she liked the ring too. Of course, Frank told me it was okay and then the jeweler measured my finger to get a ring size which size of 5½. The jeweler told us it would take a few days to get the ring sized.

Frank’s Mom suggested that we might want to go ahead and pick out china, pottery, drinkware, stainless steel silverware and real silver silverware. She told us that more than likely there would be several wedding showers and it would be nice for people to have suggestions or things we might like to have.

We did what Frank’s Mom suggested and we had so much fun. Frank and I both loved roses, so everything had roses of some kind on it. Frank let me pick the color of the roses on the china and pottery, so the roses were a delicate light pink.

On February 14, 1968 which was a Wednesday, Frank picked me up from my house to go out for Valentine’s Day. We went out to eat and then he drove to our favorite park, stopped the car, we got out and then he got down on one knee, pulled a ring box out of his pocket, opened it, showed it to me and formally asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes and then he gently slid the ring on my finger.

Sometimes it is hard to put into words how you feel because the emotion is so overpowering and that was exactly how I felt at that exact moment, completely overwhelmed with love for Frank.

Time was moving very fast and we had lots to do before Frank left for Army Basic Training. We only had eleven more days until Frank would leave. I knew some of Frank’s family from church but others who lived in close nearby towns, wanted to meet me and were inviting us to supper at their homes.

The next story is about our returning home after one of these suppers. Enjoy!

Next Chapter >>>>>>

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