in memory HR Walker
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(Also See Love Stories Section)


  1. March 31, 2017: My Dream,You Interpret

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  2. May 11, 2016: DNA and the Birds and the Bees

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  3. August 17, 2015: Alice's Mother and Father's Memoirs

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  4. July 24, 2015: Book Review: The Living Mind by Alan Scott

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  5. June 14, 2015: My Thoughts On Heaven

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  6. Sept. 2012: My War on Geese

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  7. Dec 2011: Conservatives Should Give Santorum A Second Look

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  8. October 2011: The Hottest Escorts on the MightyMo

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  9. May 2009: Stand Up For Freedom

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  10. September 2008: America's Energy Independence Future

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  11. April 2007: Fidel Climbs on Bandwagon
    (for Global Warming)

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  12. March 2007:: Global Cooling Is Back

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  13. February 2007: Global Warming
    (Anthropogenic Climate Change)

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  14. January 2007: Comman Sense About Doom's Day Clock

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  15. January 16, 2007: Surviving the Ice Storm

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Alice and Jerry's Love Story
Wed November 5, 1960

Prologue

I had very low vision throughout high school and college such that I could hardly see to cross the street and certainly could never see what was written on the blackboard. Obviously, I couldn't drive. But in the summer of 1959, just before my final college semester, a miracle occurred to the extent that I could see well enough to drive. I remember dear brother-in-law, state trooper Lyle gave me my first driving lesson in Dad's big old 1946 Buick. We were going down a steep hill, one of St Joe's many, and I started to panic as I gingerly applied the big car's brakes and just seemed to keep going even faster; I pushed much harder and, as the car slowed down, Lyle, in his cool and calm manner, said, "did that hill scare you a bit?"

Upon graduation in mid-year I went to St. Louis in search of a job and was hired by Joe Shafer, District Manager of Hagan Chemicals and Controls (later to become Calgon Corporation) as a Hall Laboratories service engineer (industrial water treatment consultant). Normally, no one is hired and put directly into the field for that position but I was a guinea pig hired to do field training first and then enter the Hall Cadet class in Pittsburgh. Although I traveled mostly with a seasoned engineer during that field training, Joe Shafer gave me a company car that was due for trade-in to drive in St. Louis. He didn't know that I had almost no experience driving and had never driven a stick-shift like the 1956 Ford he had provided. But I learned the hard way.

In the spring of 1960, I drove that car to Pittsburgh to participate in the three month training program. Compared to Pittsburgh, St. Joe is a flat prairie. My inexperience driving, particularly with a stick shift was a real challenge. But I survived and left the car to the home staff's car pool upon completing the course

The Love of My Life

The Friday after I completed the Hall cadet traing class I flew from Pittsburgh to St. Joe; in those days St. Joe's Rosecrans airport still had commercial flights. I had purchased a Brownie 8mm movie camera while in Pittsburgh and took what I thought were really neat pictures of the shadow of the plane I was on as it was landing on Rosecrans field. The plane came to a stop, the steps were lowered, and I along with the other few passengers descended down the steps onto the runway. As I knew he would be, Dad was waiting for me. After a greeting hug, Dad took my luggage and said, "The car's right over here."

Dad drove us to our home on south 12th street where I greeted Mom and my sister Mary Ellen. The next morning Mom fixed home-made waffles as a special breakfast for me. Out of the blue, during normal morning chit-chat, Mom said, "Jerry, Mary Ellen has a really nice new girlfriend you ought to meet." "How old is she", I asked. "She's the same age as Mary Ellen and she is very pretty." "How did Mary Ellen meet her, at school?" Mary Ellen answered that with, "no, she goes to Lafayette. I met her at church, at Copeland." "Ok, I said, "But thanks no thanks, sounds like she's way too young for me. But give me her phone number and I'll think about it." I thought about it and decided I'd rather spend my one remaining night in St. Joe having a few beers with some of my old friends. The next day I flew back to St. Louis and reported for work.

My new boss, Joe Shafer, had found me a tiny bachelor apartment behind a bakery on the corner of Manchester and Rock Hill Road. It was only a couple blocks from the Hagan office so not having a car was not a problem. However, as a technical service engineer, I needed a company car so Mr. Shafer arranged one for me right away. It was a brand new powder-blue Ford Galaxy. I could hardly wait to get home to show it off but it was a couple weeks before I took off early one Friday afternoon and commenced the five hour trip to St. Joe (in 1960, most of the trip was on two-lane roads).

We Finally Meet

I got home in time Friday night that second weekend in July to spend some more time with my old buddies and didn't get back home until well after mid-night. Saturday morning has always been a great time for me to sleep in and this Saturday was no exception.

My good friend Larry Klein had married his high school sweetheart Deanna Hadley right out of school and already had two little kids. He and Deanna were living in a duplex in South Park in St. Joe. I called Larry to say "Hello" and he invited me over that night to have dinner with him and Deanna. I accepted since I hadn't seen these good old friends for quite a while and I was looking forward to seeing them and their kids. But the "nice, pretty" girl that Mom had mentioned was also on my mind. Mom had asked me again if I'd thought about calling Mary Ellen's friend and I told her again, "no way."

But I didn't mean it. I dug the little piece of paper I had scribbled her phone number on out of my billfold and, when no one else was around, called Alice.

"Hello," a girl's voice answered. "Hello, is this Alice?" A hesitating reply, "yes." "Hello Alice, I'm Jerry Walker, Mary Ellen's brother." "oh?" "I'm home just for the weekend but I'd like to meet you." "oh?" "yeh, I'm going to have dinner tonight with a friend and his wife who live in South Park, would you like to go along with me?" "Mary Ellen has told me about you, I guess that'd be ok." "Swell, where do you live?" "I live with my Mom in an apartment behind a house on 17th street, I'll tell you how to get here." She did and I told her I'd pick her up at about a quarter to six since Larry had said to be over there around six.

So I arrived at the apartment as scheduled, went up to the door to knock, but before I could this lovely young lady opened the door and said "Hi, I'm Alice and you must be Jerry." "Yep, that's me. You ready to go?" "I'm all set, I'd introduce you to Mom but she's not home just now."

I escorted Alice to my shiny new car, hoping she'd be sufficiently impressed, and opened the door for her as I'd been told a gentleman should. Meeting Larry and Deanna for dinner with a first time date might seem a bit awkward but I had warned Larry ahead of time that I was bringing a date and the evening went great. Alice ate daintily at the spaghetti, but said it was very good. I got it all over my shirt. After dinner Larry and I reminisced about all the stupid but fun things we had done together since we had met at church when we were 10 years old (but that's another story). Alice seemed to enjoy herself talking with Deanna and playing with the toddlers.

After dinner Deanna suggested that we all go out to play miniature golf. "Sounds great to me, ok with you Alice?" "Sure, that sounds like fun." Larry said he'd drive, so we all, including the kids, crowded into Larry's car and headed toward the Belt Miniature Golf course. The kids were really too little to play but they pretended to do so with the help of Mom or Dad. As a group, we may have set a record for high score. Several times along the way we stopped to let a group or two behind us go ahead so that we wouldn't hold up the more serious players.

By this time it was getting late and the kids were obviously past their bedtimes so we headed back to Larry's. Alice and I were crowded into the back seat along with the kids and the kids enjoyed themselves on the way home by seeing how close they could push the two of us together. I didn't mind.

After we had said good-by to Larry and Deanna I drove Alice back to her apartment on 17th street. We sat in the car for a while and talked a bit about what each of us was currently doing in life. Even though she was only 17, she had worked in a café, at United Department Store, at her brother-in-law's chiropractic office and was currently working at Manschreck's book store. That spring she had been the beauty queen atop the United Department store's Apple Blossom Parade float. I was impressed and thought her to be very mature for such a young lady.

Before saying good-night, I told her that I had to drive back to St. Louis the next day but I'd like for us to get together after church to do something before I left. "OK, I'd love to," she replied. We agreed that I'd pick her up at one o'clock and we'd decide then what to do.

Cupid's Arrow

Alice was waiting outside for me the next day when I got to her home and she jumped in the car as soon as I had stopped.."hi!" "hi!" "What are we dogin today?" she asked. I thought about it a minute, then asked " have you ever jumped on a trampoline?" (in those days, very few and only the rich had their own trampolines but they were popular as a commercial recreational attraction. They ceased being commercially available as far as I know because of the high liability that resulted from their use.) "No, but it sounds like fun" replied Alice, Nothing's too far away in St. Joe and the fun spot on the Belt was only about five minutes away.

We arrived there and I bought tickets for 15 minutes on the trampoline. We had neither ever before jumped on a trampoline but we were young and unafraid as we climbed up to the bouncy contraption. We held hands to hold one another up as we tentatively tested the heights to which we could jump. We got more and more brave. We laughed and laughed and jumped and jumped. Then, all at once we jumped too high and lost our balance as we came down. I grabbed Alice and she grabbed me as we fell together unharmed. Or so I thought. We did not get up right away but laid there for a few seconds in one another's arms. I was wrong about not being hurt. An arrow had gone through my heart.

Speaking of arrows, the rec place also had an archery range including bows and arrows for the unskilled to give it a try. "You ever shoot an arrow?" I asked Alice. "No, never." "Me neither, want to give it a try?" "Sure, why not." I shelled out another two bucks and we were given the equipment and entered the target shooting area. I went first. The only bow and arrow I had ever shot were the home-made kind kids make but I had an idea of what to do. I carefully aimed at the target, pulled back and let go as the arrow flew, not too swiftly or too straight in the general direction of the target. "What a great shot" exclaimed Alice. "OK, now you try it."

I handed Alice the bow and placed her hands where I thought they should be as I instructed her, "just keep your left hand on the bow below the arrow, pull back with your right hand and then let it go." She did, but her left arm was too close such that the arrow shot across the bare skin of her forearm. "Ohh,ohh,ohh." She pulled her arm to her chest and I could see tears beginning to form in her eyes. I melted feeling her pain and wishing that it had been mine. She was a brave soldier and fought back the tears, saying "it's alright, I'll be ok."

Love Sick

From that day on I did all I could to get back to St. Joe every week-end and Alice was always there such that we could spend as much time together as possible before that Sunday drive back to St. Louis. Speed limits were not much of a problem in 1960 and it was a good thing because I burned up the roads on Friday afternoons. As a Hall Engineer, I set my own schedule. I had been assigned about 40 client plants each of which required a certain frequency of service visits. My closest client plant to St. Joe was in Marshall Missouri. That summer, the Marshall Power Plant got the best service they had ever gotten before or since and, surprisingly, it was always on a Friday.

But one Friday I ended my week in Calvert City Kentucky at the Penn Salt plant. I managed to wrap things up there at around noon and didn't stop to eat but barreled out toward Paducah, across the Ohio, by Metropolis and continued to fly toward Missouri. I sped across the old Jefferson Barracks Bridge across the Mississippi and onto old highway 40 and by Chesterfield, across the Missouri and continued to fly on the two lane road. I topped a hill and suddenly, just ahead of me the traffic was at a dead stop. I slammed on the brakes but there was no way I could stop so I let up a bit and took to the shoulder before hitting the brakes again. My guardian angel was surely with me that day as I slid to a stop at about the third car in the lineup. Needless to say, I got a few dirty looks and some comments I fortunately couldn't hear. .

I slowed down, a little bit, before proceeding to my sweetheart Alice. I knew I couldn't keep this up every week-end but I also knew I couldn't go more than a week without seeing her. Something had to be done.

The following week I planned on doing something. By this time the Hagan District Office had moved to Clayton on Brentwood. We had a very efficient office manager. Esther was an older no nonsense lady who had taken me under her wing after I had shown up as a young green kid just out of school. I asked Esther to help me pick out an engagement ring for Alice. At lunchtime Esther accompanied me to the swanky jewelry store just across the street and helped me pick out a ring I thought I could afford.

The Proposal

I was back in St. Joe the next Friday night. "Alice, I love you, will you marry me?" "I love you too, yes I'll marry you."

We were married five weeks later. Some said it would never last. Four children, 16 grand-children, and three great grand-children say they were wrong. I had told Alice I would love her more each day, and I have, and I do, and I always will.

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COMMENTS:

  1. From a cousin: Enjoyed you story so much. My Grandfather was Hoiiis Walker and my Mother was his daughter Doris. I remember Mary Ellen and the times Kaye and I stayed at Grandma's in Liberal. I'm sure we have met years ago at the big family reunions at the Lincoln Park in Pittsburg. I hope to someday go to the reunion and see the church Great-great-grandfather built. Mother and Aunt Mae went there and met relatives. I have pictures of them and the little white church.

 

Copyright © June 14, 2000 Jerry Lee Walker Sr.