Monday, July 25, 2005

Home Again: The Persistence Of Memory

Filed from Winter Haven, Florida

Yes, you can go home again. And when we do, there's always something new to learn when you get there.

My maternal grandmother will turn 88 years old this year. All of us members of the Wonk family are spending a few days down here with my grandmother, learning more about the family history. This is the place where I grew up, grew to manhood, and eventually left in order to make my own way. But now I'm home again. Listening to grandma tell us the stories about the Old Days.

Today's history lesson was all about how my grandmother and grandfather met for the first time.

I've learned that my grandfather was something of an actor and a singer. One day in 1932, a group of young people came to my grandmother's church and performed a religious play. One of the young actors, an 19-year-old named Zack, was smitten with a girl that was sitting in the very first row. After asking the minister who she was, and being told that her name is Mildred, Zack informed the preacher that Mildred was the the one who he was going to marry someday. "That girl will be my wife," Zack said confidently to the preacher.

Not wasting any time after the play's performance, Zack asked the Mildred's father, Thomas Blackburn, if it would be permissible to call upon her at their home. Scandalized, the girl's father indicated that she was much too young to entertain a young gentleman. Disappointed, Zack went away. But he didn't forget.

The girl knew nothing of this other than a handsome young man had looked her way a couple of times during the play's performance.

Five years went by. Neither Mildred nor Zack saw anything of one another. Meanwhile, the 14-year-old girl had matured into an 19-year-old young lady. One day, out of the blue, Zack, who was now a strapping man of 24 years, showed up at church, and just like before, asked the young woman's father if it would be permissible for him to call on the young-lady.

This time around, Mildred's father told the young man yes.

My mother's parents, Zack and Mildred Outlaw, were married nearly 66 years before death broke them apart.

Who says there's no such thing as love at first site?

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