Monday, September 5, 2011

Gumpy meets Ema, her version

For many years, my understanding of my grandparents relationship came through Gumpy's stories.  We spent many hours on the golf course and many more working around the farm together.  Since his passing, I've prodded Ema a bit more to get her version of things.

Gladys and I stopped by the farm a few days before our second wedding anniversary to spend some time with Ema.  It had been a few weeks and she wasn't feeling her best, so we were all hoping a little company would help revive her spirits.

We talked about a lot of things that night, like the vacation she took with her parents her first year of teaching in Waldron.  And the subject of Waldron took us to the subject of how my grandparents met.

Ema had been teaching in town for a few months.  She lived with Kate Fox, who was the owner of the Waldron Telephone Company.  Her house was a few blocks from the school, which convenient because everyone at Waldron High School had the same lunch hour so they could go home for a proper meal before the start of afternoon classes.

This particular day, it had been raining.  She started walking with an umbrella in hand when a car pulled up.  Inside the car were a few of her students including Mary Lou Farnham and her older cousin Elbert (Gumpy) Carpenter was behind the wheel.  Ema had been warned about him, he did have a reputation for enjoying barley pops and a good bar a bit too much.  Her students insisted she ride with them, so she got in the front seat.

As she walked into the house, she could feel Kate's look of disapproval.  Ema decided to leave a little early so she could avoid the inevitable ride back to school.  With a block to go, she hears a horn blaring.  The car that was approaching was Elbert's, and the girls insisted she get in to ride the last block to school.

A few weeks later, he asked her if she would go with him for a cup of coffee.  Reluctantly, she agreed.  When he arrived, Ema saw her four squealing students in the back seat, excited that Ms. Hallenbeck was going on a date with Elbert.  Unbenounced to Ema, Elbert had made it a routine to take Mary Lou and her friends to a teen dance in Fayetteville, OH every Saturday, where he would drink coffee in the back with several other chaperons.  They sat in a corner and talked for much of the evening.

And as the saying goes, the rest is history.