Monday, February 19, 2007

Country Courting

Like death and birth, marriage and courtship came to our house in its own time. According to our custom, courting was done on Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday night until 10 p.m.

We had a Victrola, as I said (Country Music & Vittles 3/1/05], and we played that a lot when our dates were there. One record, large and with recording only on one side, was entitled Love with a Capital L. It was a favorite of mine.

The courting room was separated from the rest of the house by an open breezeway and was heated by an old wood burning stove with the stove pipe through the wall. It smoked when the wind blew a certain way. But we stayed there, smoke and all. Sometimes we had to open the door.

Our signal that courting time had ended was when my mamma pulled out the daybed for the kids to sleep. This meant "all beaus go home."

The room served a double function and was also used a bedroom after beaus went home. I remember going to bed in there at night with no heat in the cold winter, sometimes with my hair wet. I would cover my head all by my eyes and nose. I have awaken in the night with my bangs in icicles.

The rule in our house was that any boy with marriage intentions must ask my pappa for the girl. Well, the first to marry was not the eldest, it was the third daughter, Took, at the age of 14, with her husband almost twice her age.

The couple had been sneaking around "courting" as it was called then. My folks found out about his and my pappa set his foot down - no more of that. But they continued sending word and notes until one night at church.

When the service was dismissed Took just rushed out to a waiting car and friends. Off they went to the Justice of the Peace and were married. Oh, what a night - it was like a kidnapping. My folks and visitors stayed up all night. My pappa walked the yard and cried and beat his fists saying he would kill her husband at first sight.

But he soon calmed down and took them in for the first year, even letting them grow a crop and get a start for his first grandson who was on the way by now.

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