Meet the Parents-Mine
Friends, classmates, they have your back, offer advice, help in a crunch. My father’s friend and classmate Paul was willing to supply the lack in my father’s life; a girl friend who would eventually become a wife. Paul had his own, not engaged of course. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Thiensville, (pictured above) where the men attended, had rules. No student was allowed to be engaged, however the men were strongly urged to be engaged/married ASAP upon graduation. Paul and girl-friend Emily set out to remedy Roland’s problem. They set him up with a date for the St. John’s Lutheran Church (Milwaukee) choir picnic. Though the young lady they chose was pleasant, she had a high-pitched childish voice with a laugh to match. Roland could not envision living with that the rest of his life. One blind date was thus discarded. Paul and Emily were not deterred. Another friend of Emily’s came to mind. A friend who had been confirmed with her, and had also been at the choir picnic.
Here is the account from my father’s memoir.
“So I was set up with a date with Lois (Bauer). It was probably late in 1943. I remember taking the Interurban into Milwaukee and getting off not too far from 10th and Ring the home address of the Bauers. I remember going down to the down town area of the city with her to view a movie. I could not tell you what the movie was all about. Movies and I have not been great friends. What I do recall was when we came out of the theatre and headed for the streetcar stop, she put her hand in mine. To this day I don’t know whether it was her way of saying that she liked what she saw and was not going to let go or whether she was just being kind to a bashful seminary student.
Whatever she thought, I had discovered what I needed and wanted. No, it was not love at first sight but it was a sight that I wanted to see more of and with which to become better acquainted.”
What my father failed to relate in print is certainly part of the story. In his oral account, he remarked on the fact that the father impressed him before the daughter did. When Roland entered the house Henry Bauer (employed by Northwestern Publishing House as a linotypist) was stretched in an easy chair by a sunny window. He was enjoying the Saturday afternoon opera from the Metropolitan.
Mother had her own oral addendum to the blind date. In a letter, Roland expressed the desire to see her again, but would she refrain from wearing lipstick? Powdering her nose, applying lipstick were the only acts of primping my mother indulged in. She did not comply to his request, ever. It did not stop him from pursuing the relationship.
The picture of my parents was taken before they were engaged. They were visiting my father’s hometown of Wonewoc WI. where his father, Herman Gurgel, was the teacher at the Lutheran day school. They were setting out for a hike in the Baraboo Hills above the town. I wonder if mother wore lipstick for the hike?
Note: The photograph is a treasured insight into my parents’ courtship. It also inspired a thread I developed in Steeple in the Distance. I will refrain from an elaboration. That would be telling and spoil the story.
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