One hundred years ago today, my grandfather Raymond Murray “Whacker” Barton was born. He’s been gone more than 20 years, and I miss him, and I wish I had interviewed him when I had the chance.
I didn’t miss that opportunity with his widow, my grandmother. She and I spent a lot of time with a tape recorder a couple of years before she died. My favorite of her stories, and the very first one I asked her to tell me for the record, was the one about their courtship, which began one fall when he was hired on at the school where she was already on the faculty.
In celebration of him, her, and Valentine’s Day, here’s how that story began:
When I first started going with Whacker, both of us were teaching in a high school. I was homemaking teacher and he was a football coach.
I had noticed him. At the first teachers’ meeting, another teacher and I went up to the superintendent of the schools, and we told him, “You are not doing any of us any good. You hired two football coaches. The first one that you hired is very good looking [but already married], and the other one is so ugly. No one is going to want to go with that teacher.”
So — that’s the one I married.
I had been noticing that at a certain time during the day, he would walk by my room, which was at the other end of the hall. So, I kind of made myself presentable. One day he stopped by.
I was living at home with Mother and Daddy. One Sunday he called me and he said he wondered if I was free that day and if I would like to go run and play. So, I thought a minute and said, “Yeah, I believe I will.”
I went and told Mother that he asked me if I’d like to go “run and play.”
She said, “What in the world do you do?”
And I said, “I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out!”
Chris, I love that you had a grandfather whose nickname was Whacker, and I had a grandfather whose nickname was Spud. And their wives were both spitfires, sounds like! (You’d have to be, with husbands like that.)
What a great story. Your grandparents are such a kick–having these recordings must make you feel like they are still with you.
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