A short while back came an invitation to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Jules and Sharon (Alinder) Dragland: click on Dragland.
They went to the same college as I, at the same general time, and while we didn’t know each other personally, then, we’ve become acquainted through a college alumni mailing list.
I asked if I could send their announcement on to the list, and they said fine.
I also remarked about the coincidence: my first wife, Barbara, and I were married June 8, 1963, as well. And asked the question: and where did you marry? It turned out they married the same day as Barbara and I, at a Church one-third of a mile from ours, in the same town, Valley City ND. A pretty amazing coincidence.
Those who know me know that Barbara and my marriage was not at all routine. It wasn’t marital problems – not that at all. Five months after we were married, she had to quit teaching due to a previously unknown and ultimately fatal kidney condition. She had our first and only child, Tom, February 26, 1964, and passed away waiting for a kidney transplant July 24, 1965.
A friend marveled, today, that I remember the details so well, so many years later. Such journeys one never forgets.
Life has gone on, and I don’t think she has accompanied me too much as a ghost since then, in the sense of impacting on later relationships. Had she lived, I think we would have done well, knowing our mutual interests, then, but anyone who’s been married knows that you are never guaranteed an easy path. There is this and that wrinkle: every couple knows this. Widows have the luxury of defined memories that, at some point, are terminated by their partners death. In my case, this was only two years for both of us living from one day to the next, not knowing what the next 24 hours would bring, healthwise.
Here are two photos: of Barbara on our wedding day at St. Catherine’s in Valley City ND; and of me, a few weeks earlier on Army maneuvers at Yakima Firing Range, Washington. There is a little story to follow:
(click to enlarge)
Barbara was doubtless better at planning this wedding than I. She was very poor, but she had family and she had friends in town.
Me? I had been in the Army since January of 1962 at Ft. Carson, Colorado; she and I had become engaged, and the wedding date was set.
Then our entire Division set out to play war on the Yakima Firing Range in dismal southeast Washington State. (The Division was preparing for later duty in Vietnam. We didn’t know that at the time.)
We went the 1200 miles one-way, there and back, by truck, and, it seemed, I’d be home in time to get the required blood test.
I know from letters I wrote her (which she kept), that she was nervous about all of this separation, so close to wedding day. This was not deemed to be an emergency matter by either the Army or myself.
I recall distinctly, on some liberty time, going in to Yakima to be fitted for the wedding wear, so at least that could be ready.
Maneuvers over, the Division motor-marched back to Ft. Carson, I took my leave and got home in time for the wedding, which went well.
We “honey-mooned” by taking the Greyhound bus back to Colorado Springs, and living in a tiny apartment, half of a two car garage, for the next month. We gave meaning to the phrase: “poor as church mice.” Then she returned home to start a teaching career, which lasted two months till she had to resign due to illness.
And that began Fifty Years Ago today.
from Sharon and Jule, June 8, 2013: This was most interesting to us. You have great memories. I found this sad to read, yet happy to see how happy Barb was on your special wedding day. She chose lavender and we had blue with lavender flowers. . We have been so very lucky and have had a great 50 years. We had an awesome day, are so happy, feel extremely blessed and looking forward to our party tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your story and sending your best wishes. There will be several people here that you know. It was great to get a long note from Richard Greene yesterday. We have heard from so many people. Because of you, we have heard from people we hardly remember, but who seem to remember us. It has been a fun ride.
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Barbara is buried in the St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Valley City ND, perhaps 100 feet northeast of the statue on the south edge which overlooks the cemetery.