Yesterday was my 50th anniversary. Bill and I were married on Saturday, December 28, 1968. That happens to be the same week Apollo 8 orbited the moon and took the first photo of the blue marble of earth rising above the curve of the lunar surface. The news media has made a big deal of the anniversary this week, but I don’t remember it at all.
I don’t remember if I knew that there was a moon shot on Saturday, December 21, 1968. I was waiting that day. Waiting to go home and get married. Bill had given me a ring in October. We had called all our family and friends and the pastor of his mom’s church. The plans were all set. We were going to get married at his sister’s house in January during semester break. We were both graduating from college, but staying in Cruces for the spring semester because I needed to complete student teaching to get my certification. The plan was for me to finish up while Bill worked to put food on the table and waited for his draft notice.
During the last week before Christmas, it dawned on us that the Christmas break was longer than the semester break. We called everyone to see if moving the wedding date up would cause any difficulty. No one else had conflicting plans so on the spur of the moment we went for our blood tests on Friday, December 20. Instead of getting in the car after our last class and driving home, we spent the weekend at Bill’s place. On Monday went to the Health Department Office, picked up the results and applied for our Marriage Certificate at the County Clerk’s Office. Certificate in hand we drove home on Monday, the 23rd.
Then the mayhem ensued. I had a wedding dress, but nothing else. Christmas with the usual family dinner and presents, etc. was on Wednesday. The wedding would be on Saturday. I borrowed the cake topper and veil from my friend Dee. My sister and I went to the dime store and got silk poinsettias which we used to decorate the cake table. At the florist we bought live flowers and florist’s tape to make the corsages for the mothers, my bouquet and boutonnieres for Bill and the Best Man.
Since it was Christmas I decided to go with red and white flowers. The doctor who had an office on the corner across from Bill’s parent’s house loaned us the potted poinsettias from her waiting room. I baked a double batch of red velvet cake in layers of various sizes, assembled and iced it.
A hasty bridal shower was put together by my sister in-law. I received some sheets and towels and other household items. Bill already had an assortment of his mom’s cast off pots, pans and dishes. My mom got us a set of brown stone ware plates and bowls which came from the supermarket where she shopped. She had been collecting them all during the fall. Each week a different piece was offered for a small amount of money. I also got a hand held Sunbeam mixer. I had collected some Oneida stainless flatware with Betty Crocker coupons.
There was no money for a honeymoon. We borrowed my new sister in-law’s single wide trailer which sat on a lot down the street from Bill’s parent’s house. In the fall Bill and I had helped paint the new house before they moved to it from the trailer. The trailer was still partially furnished, but it needed cleaning and I had to go grocery shopping.
I don’t know if we watched the launch or the landing of the moon shot or whether we heard the words from Genesis read on Christmas Eve by the crew. I was busier than the proverbial “one armed paper hanger” that week.
The mission crew was equally busy. The mission to circle the moon had not been intended for December of 1968. It was hurriedly put together to stay a step ahead of the Russian space program. The crew had had little time to train and the rocket was not fully tested before the manned launch. The whole thing was a rushed operation of much larger scale than my honeymoon launch. I was fully invested in my project and don’t remember anything at all about that historic flight which orbited the moon ten times and returned to earth.
The flight went off smoothly as did my own launch. There was a lot of scrambling and making do and shifting of priorities in both cases. We were married and drove off into the moonlight to the noise of fireworks exploding under the hood where our teen aged nephews had planted cherry bombs.
After the honeymoon, we had no home. Bill was living with a roommate in an apartment and I was an RA in the dorm. With two weeks until the end of the semester, we had to study for finals, find a house to rent and job for Bill. After looking at several places, we picked the cheap one nearest to campus. It was a furnished triplex near enough that I could walk to class. Best of all it was $55 a month utilities paid.
Instead of studying for finals I spent most of that week scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom in the apartment. It had previously been inhabited by male students who had obviously never wiped the grease off the stove or mold out of the refrigerator. I spent literally the entire week on my knees scrubbing. The distractions must have paid off because both of us had our best ever GPA for that semester and Bill found a job working at the hospital as an operating room orderly. We had successfully completed our launch.