By guest blogger Penny (Cunningham) Newsom
Note from Heather: This is actually the first picture I remember ever seeing of Marion. It’s also the first picture I remember seeing of Margaret as a young woman. Now that I’ve read Penny’s story about how her parents met, I think I remember hearing parts of it before! I bet it’s something Margaret and I probably talked about on our cross-country road trip. When I was in college I always thought I would want to do a thesis project somehow around how people meet – and, more importantly, how they tell the stories of how they met. It seems fitting, then, that this is the first story shared with me for this project. I can’t stop looking at this picture tonight!
Penny wrote to me that back of the picture has a note that it was taken in 1943. she looked at the original picture with a magnifying glass and didn’t see a ring on her mom’s finger. She let me know that she wrote the story below for a writing class and tried to keep it true to the story as told to her by her mother.
On Saturday the third of July, 1943, Marion Cunningham and Hazel went to a fortune teller at the fair in Casey, Illinois. Marion, a handsome divorced 30-year old blond man with a ruddy complexion, wore a starched white short-sleeved shirt, tie, sharply creased tan pants and a straw hat. Hazel was engaged to Marion. A wedding date had not been decided.
The fortune teller, not knowing of the engagement, told Marion, “You will marry a woman by the name of Mary or Margaret”. As they exited the tent, Hazel said to Marion, “I’ll introduce you to the girl you are going to marry!”
They wandered around the fairgrounds until they came upon four of Hazel’s girlfriends walking their way. Hazel stopped the girls and introduced them to Marion. One of the girls, Margaret Maria M. , was a petite pleasingly plump girl sporting a dark brown pageboy, brown eyes and a beautiful smile. Hazel told Marion that he was going to marry Margaret. Margaret, only eighteen years old, giggled at Hazel’s pronouncement.
The following Saturday, July 10, Margaret walked down Main Street where she met Hazel standing beside a car. They chatted for a little bit. Hazel suggested they get into the car to talk. Hazel opened the door and Margaret slid into the front seat under the steering wheel. While Margaret was still sitting there, Marion came up to the car. He told Margaret to scoot over as he opened the door. Margaret said, “If I do, I’ll be in the middle. Don’t you want me to get out so you can sit next to Hazel?” Marion told her, “It’s alright if you sit in the middle. Stay where you are.” Margaret, uncomfortable sitting in the middle, stayed seated. When the evening came to an end, Hazel and Marion took Margaret home.
Margaret had worked as a waitress at the local ice cream store since graduating from Casey High School in the spring. Except for babysitting, that was Margaret’s first and only paying job. When she left work on Saturday, July 17, Marion waited beside his car outside the ice cream store. He asked her, “Care if I take you home?” Ordinarily, she refused rides from men but that time she made an exception.
The next week Margaret received a letter from Marion, who lived in Paris, Illinois. In the letter, Marin told her Hazel had broken their engagement. Hazel did not want to keep him from marrying Mary or Margaret. Marion asked Margaret for a date. He anxiously waited for her response. Margaret’s reply did not disappoint.
Six weeks after their first date, Marion asked Margaret to marry him. Despite the fact that he was twelve years her senior and the father of two children, she was madly in love with him and accepted the engagement ring that had been Hazel’s. They were married on October 23, 1943. Margaret gave birth to her first child, Penny, in December of 1944. Sons David and Larry were born in the next 3 years. After almost 45 years of marriage, Marion passed on August 8, 1988. Margaret lived another 19 years until August 16, 2007.
Thanks for reading everyone! For more about why I’m running with Team in Training-Rocky Mountain take a look at this page! And, as always, any kind of support is greatly appreciated. I know not everyone can donate- so cheer me on and, if nothing else, share my blog and help me get the word out!