IT'S A PRETTY GOOD LOVE STORY, my mom and dad. As I have mentioned before, every Thanksgiving Dad tells the story of how they first met. This is how it goes. During his freshman year, in the fall of 1940, my dad's roommate at Wingate Junior College, Paul Chapman, invited my dad home to Maiden for Thanksgiving weekend.
Paul asked his younger sister, Inez, then a high school senior, to set him up with a date with a particular girl from town and "to get a date for his roommate Cliff." So, she did. She picked herself. (Please note that this is about 30 or 40 years before a girl could ask a boy for a date other than on Sadie Hawkins' Day.)
My dad says it was pretty much love at first sight. If you ever saw my mom during that era (or any other, for that matter), you would understand. The photo caption from the local newspaper read: "Beauty Queen: Miss Inez Chapman of Maiden recently elected beauty queen in the annual contest held at Wingate Junior College. She is one the outstanding members of the freshman class, an honor student, and is campaigning for the secretaryship of the student body." The picture makes the "Beauty Queen" heading quite redundant.
It may be Cliff fell for Inez because she fell for him too. My younger brother Bob recently found a copy of a book of poems which my mom wrote for an English assignment at Wingate. The book is entitled "These Will Remain" and it is dedicated to one Clifford Gaddy. This collection of 31 poems, many about her true love (including two different poems titled "To Clifford."), induced the professor to give her an "A." My dad probably liked her poetry too.
If my dad had seen the future, he may have fallen for her even harder -- if that would have been possible. As a dedicated wife, she supported him any way she could through the rest of his college and medical school years. After he finished his internship and residency, my mom served in her church and her community in extraordinary ways. She was, among other things, at different times, the president of the local YWCA, of the Mental Health Association, and of the Wednesday Club, the local women's club for promoting culture and community service.
And she did this while raising six children (four boys and two girls), all born in a span of 11 years. Most of them turned out pretty good. The six of us ended up with two doctorates, one medical degree, two master’s and the one who didn't finish college is a mechanical genius -- but all would agree that mom, who never finished college, is smarter than any of us. For the record, my mom made straight "A" grades in school -- before she met my dad. (Love will do that to you.)
And my mom is pretty sweet too. For her 80th birthday my sister Betty made a poster titled "80 Things We Love About Nez." She had to edit down the list of nominated suggestions made by her children and grandchildren. Probably should have made it 180.
However, my mother is not perfect (although smart, sweet, caring and pretty is a pretty good combination -- just ask my wife). When I was playing Little League, my older brothers told me to "Always tell Mom practice gets out an hour earlier than it actually does." So, being the obedient little brother that I was, I did. On the day when the first practice finished -- right on time -- I looked up and Mom was driving up. Told you she raised smart kids.
Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!
Gary D. Gaddy's parents, Inez Chapman Gaddy and Clifford Garland Gaddy, Sr., have been married for sixty-five years this week. He is hoping the marriage works out. (See the January 8th birthday edition, "Ten or so things that I learned from my dad.")
A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday March 26, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy